For Summit County seniors, there's help in figuring out the numerous options when it comes to Medicare.
At the Summit County Community and Senior Center, volunteers are offering Medicare consulting to help local residents understand the plan, along with associated supplemental options.
The Medicare Part D open-enrollment period begins Monday, meaning those eligible can sign up for a prescription drug plan or change their existing one. It ends Dec. 7.
It is important to annually review prescription drug plans since premiums, deductibles and drug coverage changes yearly, according to Ed Ozark, who oversees the Medicare counseling program. Often, seniors choose a drug plan and stay in it even if there are cheaper alternatives as years go by. It's smart, Ozark said, for people to take a fresh look at prescription drug plans every fall to assure their drugs are covered and premiums, deductibles and co-pays have not increased.
In 2013, 17 insurance companies will offer more than 30 prescription drug plans, Ozark said.
The counseling program's volunteers assist in finding the best solution and plan for each individual situation, Ozark said. They do not sell any insurance products, or profit in any way from helping their clients. All services are provided free of charge.
The counseling program is part of the State Health Insurance Assistance Program, a national program that provides training and support to local volunteers who offer one-on-one counseling to people who are eligible or will be soon for Medicare.
> Identify Medicare prescription drug plans (Medicare Part D) and assist with enrollment.
> Explain Medicare Part A (hospital insurance), Medicare Part B (medical insurance) and Medicare Part C (Medicare cost plans available in Summit County).
> Evaluate Medicare supplemental insurance plans (Medigap).
> Help understanding Medicare rights, hospital bills, medical bills and other Medicare concerns.