MASON COUNTY — The time is approaching when senior citizens and others on Medicare must make their choices for 2018, and the task can be daunting.
There is a local advocate, however, that can help residents sift through the choices and determine what is best for them.
Medicare is the federal health insurance program for people age 65 and over, certain younger people with disabilities, and people with permanent renal failure. The open enrollment period is Oct. 15 through Dec. 7.
Ann Dalton, executive administrative assistant with the Mason County Action Group, Inc., is a State Health Insurance Program (SHIP)/Medicare Improvements for Patients and Providers Act (MIPPA) counselor for Mason and Cabell counties. She is available at the Gene Salem Center in Point Pleasant to give one-on-one counseling to individuals new to Medicare, and to Medicare beneficiaries.
Medicare uses numerous private insurance companies across the U.S. that they contract for administration. Open enrollment provides recipients time to review their current coverage and compare it with other options.
During the enrollment period, participants can switch from Medicare to a Medicare Advantage Plan; switch from an advantage plan back to the original plan; switch from a current advantage plan to a new one; join a prescription drug plan; change prescription plans; or remain with current coverage.
Dalton said she can give information and advocate for preventive health benefits paid by Medicare, help beneficiaries and their families understand the different parts of Medicare, and assist in finding options available in West Virginia. She can also answer questions and help resolve concerns about medical bills, insurance claims, and Medicare summary notices.
Some things to consider when choosing a Medicare and prescription drug plan include if the plan covers the medication you are taking; premium, deductible and copay amounts; annual out-of-pocket cost for the plan; and the plan’s star rating.
Dalton can be reached by calling the senior center at 304-675-2369. Information is also available by calling 1-800-MEDICARE or visiting www.medicare.gov/find-a-plan.
Mindy Kearns is a freelance writer for Ohio Valley Publishing, email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.