Free Insurance Counseling Available During Medicare Open Enrollment

Harrisburg, PA The Pennsylvania Department of Aging is reminding Medicare beneficiaries that the annual Medicare open enrollment period began on Saturday, October 15, 2016, and ends Wednesday, December 7, 2016. Any new coverage selected takes effect January 1, 2017.

During open enrollment, new Medicare beneficiaries can sign up for Medicare Prescription Drug coverage and health plans to compliment Medicare for the first time, and current Medicare beneficiaries can review and make changes to their current coverage so that it better meets their needs. In order to help Medicare beneficiaries navigate through their options, Pennsylvania offers a free, objective health benefits counseling program called APPRISE, which is designed to counsel and empower Medicare-eligible individuals, their families, and caregivers to make informed healthcare benefit decisions.

“Our APPRISE counselors are trained to help Medicare beneficiaries understand their Medicare benefits, sort through their health and prescription options to find the best one for them, and successfully complete the enrollment process,” said Secretary of Aging Teresa Osborne. “For individuals already on or soon to be on Medicare, open enrollment is an important time to review their health and prescription drug plans to ensure that the plans meet their needs, and the APPRISE Program is available to help them.”

With over 700 trained APPRISE volunteers in the commonwealth, the APPRISE Program provides objective, easy-to-understand information about Medicare Supplemental Insurance, Medicare Advantage Plan, and prescription drug plans in order for Medicare beneficiaries to compare plans and determine which plan best meets their needs. APPRISE volunteers also hold Medicare Open Enrollment events through Area Agencies on Aging across the commonwealth.  In 2015, approximately 295,000 of the commonwealth’s 2.5 million Medicare beneficiaries were advised by APPRISE volunteers.

“Since Medicare is complex and often difficult to understand, many beneficiaries choose to do nothing during open enrollment, but doing nothing actually amounts to permitting the automatic renewal of the coverage the beneficiary already has,” explained Secretary Osborne. “Governor Wolf and I are encouraging Pennsylvania’s Medicare beneficiaries to take action, review your care and benefit options during the Medicare open enrollment period, and reach out to your local APPRISE counselor if you need help,” said Secretary Osborne.

To learn more about the APPRISE Program or to find an Open Enrollment event in your area, call 1-800-783-7067 or visit aging.pa.gov/insurance.

Medicare beneficiaries can also complete their own plan comparisons by using the Medicare plan finder tool at medicare.gov/find-a-plan or calling 1-800-MEDICARE.

SOURCE: news release

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