The New York State Office for the Aging (NYSOFA) reminds older New Yorkers that this year’s Medicare open enrollment period ends Dec. 7. Medicare health and prescription drug plans can make changes each year to costs, coverage, and what providers and pharmacies are in their networks. During the open enrollment period, people with Medicare can change their health plans and prescription drug coverage for the following year to better meet their needs. Plan changes take effect Jan. 1, 2021.
“People’s health and financial status can change over the course of a year – particularly this year, due to COVID-19. Plans also can change what they will cover as well as adjust the cost to the beneficiary,” NYSOFA Acting Director Greg Olsen said. “It’s important for older adults to review their current plans before the end of the open enrollment period to ensure they are getting a plan that is a good value and meets their health care and prescription drug coverage needs. 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 best for them.”
Staying healthy is more critical than ever, particularly for older adults, who remain at greater risk for COVID-19 and other illnesses, such as the flu. Older individuals who have had Medicare Part B (medical insurance) for longer than 12 months are eligible for a yearly wellness visit at low or no cost to develop or update a personalized plan based on their current health and risk factors.
NYSOFA said, “With the holiday season underway, understanding the risks and impact of the COVID-19 virus is critical for all New Yorkers to protect themselves and their loved ones.”
New Yorkers can take the CV19 CheckUp, a free, anonymous, personalized online tool that evaluates an individual’s risks associated with COVID-19 based on their life situation and behaviors, and provides recommendations and resources to reduce those risks. Developed by BellAge Inc., NYSOFA said the CV19CheckUp tool helps people be safer and healthier, while ensuring their individual needs are met during the pandemic.
Several resources are available to help Medicare beneficiaries and their families review and compare their current health and prescription plan coverage with new plan offerings:
√ 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.)
√ 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.
√ One-on-one counseling assistance is available from HIICAP counselors at each local office for the aging or through the HIICAP toll free line: 1-800-701-0501.
√ 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.