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SENIOR TIMES . . .

Senior Questions

The following information was supplied by the Mid-Florida Area Agency on Aging. For information, call (800) 262-2243.

Q. Because my oral health will deteriorate in old age, why should I bother with oral hygiene, such as brushing and flossing?

A. Thorough daily brushing and flossing of your natural teeth are essential to keep them in good condition, especially as you age. Plaque, the sticky, colorless layer of bacteria that causes tooth decay and disease, appears to build up faster and in greater amount on the teeth of older adults, particularly when they neglect oral hygiene. This can increase your susceptibility to dental decay and gum disease.

Q. My husband and I are trying to understand the new health coverage that is constantly evolving in response to a highly competitive health-care market and to legislative changes. Can you help us understand these new health choices such as a health maintenance organization, a preferred provider organization, a point-of-service system or some other "managed" health care plan? It is very confusing!

A. If you understand these key features, you will be a smart managed-care consumer.

First, managed care represents a different philosophy of health care. The best plans focus on helping you stay well _ by encouraging you to eat right and exercise regularly, by preventing disease and by detecting any illnesses early.

Second, managed-care plans are complex systems. It may be helpful to think of them as a kind of marriage between a health insurance company that processes and pays medical bills, and a separate group of doctors, hospitals and health care professionals.

Third, expecting a lot from your health plan and providers, and knowing how to work the system, are the best ways to ensure that you get the care you need.

To learn more about this type of insurance, call the MFAAA Center for Aging Resources number given above, and request a copy of 9 Ways to get the most from your Managed Health Care Plan. There is no charge for this booklet.

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