Health Notes: Medicare enrollment, a telemedicine app and more

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Help with Medicare enrollment

Open enrollment for Medicare is underway and continues through Dec. 7.

The enrollment season provides beneficiaries to make changes to their Medicare Advantage and Part D plans, if they choose to, according to a news release from the Minnesota Board of Aging.

Minnesota has more than 1 million people on Medicare, the news release notes. It also points out that Medicare rules and regulations change every year, as do the plans themselves.


A big change this year is that Medicare’s Plan Finder tool, which people use to enroll in Medicare or change their plans, has been revamped. In most cases, users should create, and log into, a MyMedicare account to do a personalized search.

The board’s Senior Linkage Line can help Minnesotans navigate Medicare. You can reach them at , or call (800) 333-2433.

Telemedicine? There’s an app for that

Gigantic Minnesota-based insurer UnitedHealthcare recently released an app to provide access to telemedicine service 24/7, according to a news release from the company.

For the 27 million people enrolled in UnitedHealthcare plans, it means they can download that app at no additional charge for Android and Apple devices. Using the app, the individual can schedule and conduct a “virtual visit” with a doctor, without multiple sign-ins or downloading a separate app.

Virtual visits typically last about 20 minutes, according to the news release. Doctors can diagnose a range of non-emergency medical conditions, including allergies, flu, colds, pinkeye, fevers and rashes. They also can prescribe medications and send prescriptions to local pharmacies for pickup.


Advocacy group launches online tool for patients

St. Paul-based Citizens’ Council for Health Freedom, an advocacy group with a free-market perspective, has announced an online resource that “will help patients protect their rights and personal choices in the hospital and exam room.”

Available at , the website suggests questions for patients to ask, offers descriptions of various types of practitioners and provides samples of modified consent forms. It also suggests options to parents related to newborn (genetic) screening and birth certificate completion.

A glance through the website reveals “You don’t have to sign that” is common advice.


  • A Birth & Baby fair will take place from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday at Lincoln Park Middle School, 3215 W. Third St. (If you haven’t been there, the address might confuse you. The middle school drive starts on Third Street, but the school itself is well up the hill.) The free event provides all things birth-related, including workshops and vendors. Also provided are free snacks, coffee and tea, free child care and a play area, and food for purchase.

  • A workshop for prospective leaders of “Tai Ji Quan: Moving for Better Balance” will be offered from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Oct. 29 and 30 at the Arrowhead Regional Development Center, 221 W. First St. The cost of training is $100. Limited scholarships are available upon request. Registration deadline is Monday. To learn more, visit or call (218) 529-7525.

  • A six-week workshop on “Living Well with Chronic Pain” will meet from 9-11:30 a.m. Tuesdays beginning Nov. 12 at the Essentia Wellness Center, 4289 Ugstad Road, Hermantown. To register or to learn more, contact Peter Hafften at (218) 623-7800 or .

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