Jackie Stern’s journey into advocacy took root years ago, inspired by a personal experience while living in Pennsylvania. Faced with a medical emergency requiring an ambulance, she was taken aback when the subsequent bill deemed her situation non-emergent, leaving her responsible for the entire cost.
Reflecting on the injustice, Stern said, “I felt how many other people who have called 911 and then been billed like this. At (Senior Medicare Patrol), we teach people what is and isn’t covered, but that was more like abuse.”
Upon retiring in 2019, Stern sought volunteer opportunities near where she lives in North Andover, leading her to the Massachusetts Senior Medicare Patrol. After passing a written test and doing some research, she delved into giving educational presentations to Medicare recipients at least four times a year. These presentations focus on preventing, detecting, and reporting healthcare errors, fraud, and abuse, primarily hosted at local senior centers and civic facilities like libraries.
“I enjoy it. I really do,” Stern emphasized, a firm believer in this valuable community service. With estimates pegging Medicare fraud losses at around $60 billion annually, Stern recognizes the urgency of her mission.
The celebration of older Americans through the theme of Aging Unbound by the Administration for Community Living is reflected in Stern and her commitment to helping others.
“Jackie is an integral part of the Massachusetts SMP Program team,” said Lucilia Prates-Ramos, the program’s statewide director. “She is always at the ready to help with the task at hand to advance the mission of the program.”
Stern goes above and beyond her duties as an educator. Prates-Ramos said she is an instrumental member of the Massachusetts SMP Statewide Conference Planning Work Group and created a virtual exhibit hall for the Program’s Virtual Conferences in 2021 and 2023.
While Stern’s background in training, acquired during her tenure at SAP where she trained other project managers, remains familiar, there’s a notable distinction in her current presentations. Chuckling, she remarks, “They’re more my age group now. Before, they just kept getting younger.”
Presenting to groups ranging from about 20 to 2 people, Stern finds immense reward in her work, considering it valuable to the surrounding communities. At 70, she expresses a strong desire to continue as long as possible, finding fulfillment in witnessing the proverbial light bulb go off in the minds of her audience as they grasp the crucial information she imparts.
As part of our 50th anniversary celebration, AgeSpan is highlighting individuals like Jackie through our “50 Over 60” list. If you are, or know of, a person aged 60 and over in our service area to highlight on this list, please complete this brief online form. All individuals selected will be highlighted by first name, age, town, and photograph in the final “50 over 60” list at the 50th Anniversary celebration, and across print, online, and/or social media. and photograph in the final “50 over 60” list at the 50th Anniversary celebration, and across print, online, and/or social media. Need inspiration? Read our other Aging Unbound profiles.