How Miami-Dade County Helps Seniors Figure Out Health Care

Oct 29, 2013

Miami-Dade Parks and Recreation will host health fairs for seniors all over the county.
Credit Wilson Sayre

The Miami-Dade County Parks and Recreation Department is trying to do its part to help seniors navigate the health insurance maze.

Yesterday, the department kicked off a series of health fairs to be held all over the county as part of their Active Adults program.

Health service providers gave short presentations about how they can help to navigate the complicated health system -- tips about how to get the most out of coverage and ways to avoid health care fraud.

“We wanted people to be able to have the ability to learn what’s going to be beneficial for them,” said Allan Tavss, coordinator of senior programs for the Miami-Dade's Parks and Recreation Department. “They can get hands on, they can talk to people, they can get the information they need for a better life.”

Among others, a group representing the Affordable Care Act presented options for those under 65 and not yet eligible for Medicare.

People between 55 and 64 years old are one of the largest groups without health insurance in Florida. Between the costs of plans and the prevalence of pre-existing conditions, coverage is hard to get at that age.

Shirley James who is uninsured, shows off her broken elbow.
Credit Wilson Sayre

Shirley James is one of these uninsured. She is about to turn 65, which for her, is a happy milestone. “I’m excited because I’ll be getting some insurance,” she said, cradling her arm in a sling.

A few weeks ago, she fell and broke her elbow. Because she did not have health insurance, her medical expenses drained her savings.

But, at the fair she learned that she is eligible to sign up for Medicare earlier than she expected, a prospect that literally made her sing.

“It means a lot [to get health insurance]. I will no longer have to go to urgent care and pay out of my pocket when I have an emergency, or get sick. If I go to a clinic I won’t have to wait a long, long, time to get taken care of,” she said.

The next health fair will be held on November 13 at Country Village Park.