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    Department of Aging: Medicare Open Enrollment Begins Oct 15, Free Insurance Counseling Available

    The Pennsylvania Department of Aging today reminded consumers that the annual open enrollment period for Medicare beneficiaries will begin Thursday, October 15th, and end Monday, December 7th. Any new coverage selected takes effect January 1st, 2021.

    During open enrollment, new Medicare beneficiaries can sign up for Medicare Prescription Drug coverage and health plans to complement Medicare, and current Medicare beneficiaries can review and join, switch, or drop Medicare Advantage or Prescription Drug Coverage so that it better meets their needs.

    In order to help Medicare beneficiaries sort through their options, the Department of Aging offers free, objective health benefits counseling through the APPRISE Program, which is designed to counsel and encourage Medicare-eligible individuals, their families, and caregivers to make informed health care coverage decisions. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, counseling sessions will be conducted over the phone, virtually, or, at the discretion of the Area Agencies on Aging, face-to-face with proper health and safety precautions in place.

    “Navigating any kind of health care option can be confusing, tedious and overwhelming. Whether an older adult is a new Medicare beneficiary or interested in learning all their coverage options, we encourage all seniors to take advantage of the free independent counseling services available through APPRISE,” said Secretary of Aging Robert Torres. “The trained APPRISE counselors can guide beneficiaries through their choices and help them be more informed and confident in deciding what may be the best option for them.” 

    With almost 800 trained counselors in the commonwealth, the APPRISE Program provides free, confidential, objective, and easy-to-understand information about Medicare Advantage Plans, prescription drug plans, and Medicare Supplement plans, and allows Medicare beneficiaries to compare plans and determine what best meets their needs. In 2019, 148,423 of the commonwealth’s 2.7 million Medicare beneficiaries were advised by APPRISE counselors.

    Many APPRISE volunteer counselors started off as Medicare beneficiaries with questions or concerns about their coverage who, after receiving assistance through APPRISE, wanted to learn more about how they could share that knowledge with others. APPRISE volunteer counselors receive free training about Medicare, Medicaid, Medicare Advantage, Medigap, Medicare prescription drug coverage, appeals, fraud, abuse, and more. 

    To learn more about the APPRISE Program or becoming a volunteer, click here or to find an open enrollment event in your area call the APPRISE Helpline at 1-800-783-7067.

    Medicare beneficiaries can also complete their own plan comparisons by using the Medicare plan finder tool or calling 1-800-MEDICARE.

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