Q&A with Ray Walker
Medicare enrollment ends Friday
Q: I understand the deadline is close for Medicare recipients to change their drug or health plans. Can you tell us about it?
A: The Medicare Annual Enrollment period ends Friday. This is the last week for Medicare beneficiaries to review their prescription drug coverage to make sure the plan they are on is the best one for them. There could be another plan available that covers your medications at a lower cost, or perhaps your medications have changed and your new medication isn't on your current plan. We've assisted people this year who will be saving more than $10,000 next year by taking the time to contact us and review their coverage.
Q: Do recipients have to change plans?
A: No. Beneficiaries have the right to stay with their current plan if it's still going to be available in your area next year. If you want to stick with what you've got, you don't have to take any action. However, it's worth the time to review your current coverage in case you could save some money next year. This goes for anyone who is interested in Medicare Advantage plans, as well (HMOs, PPOs, etc.). Those prices change just like they do on prescription drug plans. So we can do a review of your current coverage compared to other plans that are available in your area.
Q: Is there a place where seniors can go for free help?
A: Absolutely! The Medicare Assistance Program at the Oklahoma Insurance Department offers free, unbiased counseling for all Medicare beneficiaries. In addition, we contract with all the Area Agencies on Aging across the state, as well as most of the Community Action Agencies. We also contract with LIFE Senior Services in Tulsa to provide the same services. You can reach our office by calling (800) 763-2828. If you would rather speak to someone in your local market, we can refer you to the agency in your area that provides counseling. The important thing is that everyone take the time to have their current coverage reviewed by a trained counselor. In addition to reviewing your coverage, we also can assist low-income individuals in applying for assistance to help cover their prescription costs.
PAULA BURKES, BUSINESS WRITER