Issues such as Medicare's new Part D -- also known as the Medicare prescription drug benefit, or Medicare Rx -- have a huge impact on employees, many of whom are the adult children of senior citizens struggling to understand and sign up for the new benefit, said Esther Koch, a Stanford M.B.A. and former PricewaterhouseCoopers C.P.A. who now works as a gerontologist, eldercare adviser and speaker to organizations such as Cadence Design Systems, Stanford University and Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati. Her consulting firm, Encore Management, is based in San Mateo.
Koch -- selected last year as a delegate to the White House Conference on Aging -- said it behooves businesses to help employees understand it, since eldercare issues often cause stress and sap workers' productivity.
The next Medicare Rx sign-up deadline is May 15, which doesn't leave much time. But even after that deadline, seniors will have other opportunities to switch plans or sign up for the benefit, albeit with financial penalties attached in some cases.
"And this is just the tip of the iceberg. This group of seniors is going to need more help," she said.
Chris Rauber can be reached at (415) 288-4946.