Jewish Journal

A Medicare Mitzvah (Yaakov, an 84-year-old cowboy)

by Shmully Schwartz

November 3, 2013 | 12:03 pm

Being the resident expert on Medicare for the Los Angeles public libraries is more exciting than the job title suggests. I get to meet all types of people, see many unique and diverse areas of Los Angeles, and run into the occasional crazy person who yells at me for ruining Social Security. I love it.

A few months back, at the start of the summer, I was giving a talk on Medicare (I call them Medicare 101’s) to a small group at the Marina Del Rey library. Yaakov, (name has been changed) was the oldest in the group and wore cowboy boots, a snake skin belt and a ten gallon hat. He was fairly quiet the entire talk and when I started explaining why Medicare only pays 80% he piped up mourning his situation that he hadn’t seen a doctor in 4 years because he couldn’t afford the coinsurance. He needed a hernia operation, heart medications, dental, and the gamut of what an 84-year-old person may need when reaching that age.

Yaakov literally could not believe it when I told him I could get him a plan that didn’t cost a penny and would cover all his doctor visits, operations and medications at no cost. After thoroughly explaining how Medicare Advantage works – that even my wealthy clients have it - and how he could get Extra Help to pay for his meds, he was grinning from ear to ear and thanked me profusely. I told him this is why I give these talks and that he had made my trip worth it.

A few days ago I saw Yaakov and he told me he had all his operations done, loved his doctor, and was starting a new business.

Many seniors ask me if I enjoy what I do. The answer is always very much.

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