With only days left in this year’s open enrollment period, older adults with Medicare encouraged to review current health plan and prescription drug coverage options
By the New York State Office for the Aging
The New York State Office for the Aging encourages older New Yorkers with Medicare to review and make any needed changes to their health plans and prescription drug coverage for the upcoming year before the Medicare open enrollment period ends on Dec. 7. Plan changes take effect Jan. 1, 2020.
Medicare health and prescription drug plans can make changes each year to costs, coverage, and what providers and pharmacies are in their networks. The open enrollment period is when all people with Medicare can review and change their health plans and prescription drug coverage for the following year to better meet their needs.
“People’s health and financial status can change over the course of a year. At the same time, plans can change what they will cover and also adjust the cost to the beneficiary. It is important for older adults to review their plans m – what they cover and what they cost – to ensure they are getting the best deal for themselves,” Acting Director Greg Olsen said. “Health Insurance Information, Counseling and Assistance Program (HIICAP) counselors at each local office for the aging can provide older New Yorkers with the information needed to make an informed choice about a plan that is a good value and meets their health care and prescription drug coverage needs.”
Older New Yorkers are strongly encouraged to contact HIICAP with questions about choosing a plan that best fits their needs or to compare results they received from the federal Medicare plan finder tool. HIICAP counselors offer free, accurate, unbiased information and one-on-one counseling assistance about Medicare, private health insurance, and related health coverage plans.
To reach HIICAP, call 800-701-0501.
It has been reported that the recently redesigned federal Medicare plan finder online tool has been found to have flaws that can lead to inaccurate premium estimates, incorrect prescription drug costs, and inaccurate costs with extra help subsidies, the impact of which will not be felt until the 2020 coverage year begins and older adults head to pharmacies to fill prescriptions or show up for medical appointments. For many Medicare participants, selections made during open enrollment are irreversible.
Other resources are available to help Medicare beneficiaries and their families review and compare current plan coverage with new plan offerings:
•1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227) offers around-the-clock assistance for those who want to find out more about coverage options. TTY users should call 1-877-486-2048. Multilingual counseling is available.
•The “Medicare & You” handbook includes a summary of Medicare benefits, rights and protections; lists of available health and drug plans; and answers to frequently asked questions about Medicare.
•Medicare recipients who have limited incomes and resources may qualify for extra help with Medicare prescription drug plan costs. Older adults may apply online or call Social Security at 1-800-772-1213. (TTY users should call 1-800-325-0778 to find out more.)
NYSOFA and Medicare also remind older adults to treat their Medicare number as they do their social security number and credit card information. People with Medicare should never give their personal information to anyone arriving at their home uninvited or making unsolicited phone calls selling Medicare-related products or services. If someone calls and asks for a recipient’s Medicare number or other personal information, hang up and call 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227).
Beneficiaries who believe they are a victim of fraud or identity theft should contact Medicare. More information is available at “Help fight Medicare fraud.”
Visit www.aging.ny.gov for more information.