SAN FRANCISCO — Filipinos got a big dose of health education when the Philippine Consulate General staged its latest Talakayan sa Konsulado last February 10 at the Consular Services Section here.
A collaboration with the Philippine American Press Association, the series of community presentations aims to empower Filipinos about programs and services in the United States and the Philippines, Deputy Consul General Jaime Ramon Ascalon explained the event objectives.
Last week's discussion focused on seniors and access to free services or benefits available to permanent residents and citizens.
Filipino immigrants waiting for their documents learn of free services from Fil-Am nonprofit representatives at consulate forum on health. Deputy Consul Gen. Jaime Ramon Ascalon (left) presses for education as best prevention against illness. Photo courtesy of Philcongen SF
HICAP (Health Insurance Counseling and Advocacy Program) San Francisco Program Manager Miguel Martinez and Community Outreach Coordinator Charito Aquino joined HICAP San Mateo Community Outreach Coordinator Cherie Querol Moreno in presenting an overview of Medicare, the federal health insurance system.
They emphasized Medicare General Enrollment Period - January 1 through March 31 — when recipients may enroll in Part A and Part B, if they did not do so when they were first eligible.
“Medicare is the federal health insurance for people 65 and older, people under 65 with certain disabilities, and people of any age with end-stage renal disease,” said Martinez, holding up a giant replica of a Medicare card. “Social Security Administration determines eligibility.”
Medicare can be confusing and recipients may turn to HICAP for assistance.
"HICAP is a nationwide nonprofit program offering free and unbiased information about Medicare," said Querol Moreno. "Counselors are state-certified to help beneficiaries understand benefits and costs. We do not sell or recommend insurance plans."
Chito Patricio, program supervisor of Daly City HART (Healthy Aging Response Team), detailed programs including food and transportation.
Though based in Daly City, "no one who seeks our help is turned away," said Patricio.
Angela Encarnacion, chief executive officer of Always Best Care - Peninsula, stressed its free friendship line giving isolated older adults contact outside their residence.
She invited those looking for work to consider elder caregiving offered by her agency, an occupation "compatible to Filipinos' devotion to elders."
The panelists welcomed one-on-one consultations afterward.
Consul General Henry Bensurto Jr.'s wife Mariza Bensurto led attendees composed individuals waiting for various documents to be processed. Some who had come from Stockton expressed appreciation for the opportunity to consult with the service providers.
Consul Carlyn Monastrial, Consul Rachel Oronce, Assistance to Nationals Officer Ray Sambitan, Trade attaché Rosalie Say and Public Information Officer Dianne Sarmago listened to the presentations to disseminate to their constituents.
Consul Carlyn Monastrial, Consul Rachel Oronce, Assistance to Nationals Officer Ray Sambitan, Trade officer Rosalie Say and Public Information officer Dianne Sarmago listened to the presentations to disseminate to their constituents.
For more information on Talakayan, call the Philippine Consulate 415-433-6666 ext. 313. For information on Medicare, call HICAP SF (415)677-7520 or HICAP San Mateo (650)627-9350. To reach a HICAP program anywhere in California, call 1-800-434-0222. —Philippine News