Medicare Advantage: Helping Keep Charleston Healthy

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By: Heather Bumgardner, NP, Clover Health

Charleston, Chucktown, the Holy City, so many names for this special town of ours, it’s no wonder we are America’s favorite destination. With sunsets over the Cooper River, quick jaunts to Folly Beach, healthy afternoons biking along the Ravenel Bridge, and indulgent afternoons with a peanut butter burger at Poe’s Tavern—there’s love for Charleston at all ages. We know the decision to live, and retire, here is easy, but not all decisions seniors face are so simple—finding a healthcare plan among them.

While South Carolina ranks in the bottom quarter of all states for health outcomes for ages 65+, Medicare Advantage plans are disrupting this status quo. By providing more comprehensive care than traditional Medicare, these plans are charting a promising new path for delivering quality care, creating healthier outcomes in Charleston, and throughout South Carolina.

Here is what makes Medicare Advantage different from traditional Medicare and why it can have such a profound impact on healthcare—it’s about being cared for before you get sick. Studies?show seniors enrolled in Medicare Advantage plans have one-third fewer emergency room visits and almost a quarter fewer hospital stays than those enrolled in traditional Medicare. With Medicare Advantage, there is a focus on preventative, total care, which is what seniors need most.

As a nurse practitioner who cares for seniors throughout the Southeastern Coast, I know that Medicare Advantage is without question the best health plan for Charleston’s seniors.

During one of my recent home visits to a member, a kind gentleman in his early eighties, I noted that his heart rate was alarmingly low. I knew it was a dire situation that required a doctor immediately, so I called the paramedics and after they rushed him to the hospital for evaluation, a pacemaker was implanted.

During his recovery, he called me to express his gratitude for the actions that ended up saving his life – truly his thanks is to his Medicare Advantage plan. Without it, I wouldn’t have been there for a routine well visit.

With Medicare open enrollment—the time of year when you can make changes to your Medicare coverage—coming to a close December 7, I hope to call your attention to all the health benefits you should and could be receiving from your provider. This week, consider Medicare Advantage, which I truly believe is the best option for seniors.

Let’s get South Carolina – and our beautiful Charleston – back on track with better health outcomes so that our seniors can take advantage of all that our city has to offer, for many years to come. Spread the word to your family and friends: Medicare Advantage is the plan that provides the care our beloved seniors need, when they need it most. I hope you’ll help us get more people signed up.


Clover Health Offers 5 Tips to Help Charleston Seniors Stay Healthy This Holiday Season

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By Kumar Dharmareejan

The holidays wouldn’t be the same without baked goods, savory treats, and indulgent drinks; it’s all part of celebrating with family and friends. While there are benefits of social activity on mental health, physical health can suffer from overeating. In fact, Americans gain an average of 1.3 pounds during the holiday season, according to research from Cornell University.

For older Lowcountry residents, it’s especially important to maintain a balanced diet during the holidays. Medical conditions can be exacerbated by a poor diet or lack of exercise. Contrarily, eating well helps improve energy levels and boost immune systems.

As a geriatrician at Clover Health, I am passionate about helping older adults live their healthiest and happiest lives, and the holidays are no exception. Here are five tips to help:

  1. Have a snack or light meal before going anywhere you’ll be tempted to overindulge. While we may think of parties or family meals as the danger zones, there are many other places you’ll be tempted to grab an unhealthy bite. Enjoy a healthy, filling snack, like unsalted nuts or Greek yogurt with fruit, before leaving the house. You’ll be less likely to overeat while you’re out.
  2. Stay active. The holiday season allows plenty of opportunities to tell family stories, watch football, and play games. But what about taking these activities outside? Take a walk with your family during halftime, build a snowman with your grandchildren, or try out a fitness video online.
  3. Wash your hands, more than you think you need to. Wintertime breeds coughs and colds, in part because you’re spending more time indoors where germs spread easily. Make sure to wash your hands for at least 30 seconds with warm water and soap to prevent illness.
  4. Enjoy eggnog and mulled wine in moderation. As a senior, it’s important to be especially cautious when consuming alcohol. First, check all medications and consult your doctor to make sure it’s safe to drink alcohol. If you are cleared to imbibe, stay adequately hydrated, and limit yourself to no more than two drinks per evening.
  5. Keep your mind active and engaged. For people without family and friends nearby, the holidays can be lonely — this is especially true for many older adults who live alone. If this is the case, consider getting involved with a local charity or joining a community group to stay in the holiday spirit.

To continue to stay healthy beyond the holidays, I encourage you to research your options this Medicare open enrollment season, which ends December 7. Signing up for Clover, a Medicare Advantage plan in the Charleston area, is another great way for seniors to take a step toward healthier living. Learn more about Clover at

Kumar Dharmarajan is a geriatrician and cardiologist who serves as Clover Health’s Chief Scientific Officer.

South Carolina Senior Citizens Handbook: A Guide to Laws and Programs Affecting Seniors

The South Carolina Bar Association ( has compiled a detailed guide for Senior Citizens in South Carolina focused all the laws and programs that affect our state’s senior citizen population.

Take time to review, download or print this for your records.? It is a wonderful resource guide we would like to share with you.

We hope you find this information informative and valuable.

Guide Links

Web Link:? South Carolina Senior Citizens Handbook

Dowloadable PDF File:? South Carolina Seniors Handbook – Updated 2016