COLUMBUS – Ohio Lieutenant Governor and Department of Insurance Director Mary Taylor announced the Department’s Ohio Senior Health Insurance Information Program (OSHIIP) is holding free “Medicare Check-up” events in every county to coincide with Medicare’s Oct. 15 to Dec. 7 annual enrollment period. The sessions are intended to help people review changes to Medicare and determine their best coverage option for 2013. The first Check-up events start in late August and new coverage begins Jan. 1.
OSHIIP recently celebrated its 20th anniversary as Medicare’s designated educational program in Ohio for beneficiaries, family members and health care professionals.
“Determining the appropriate Medicare coverage should be done with the help of a family member or a knowledgeable and trusted advisor such as a representative from our OSHIIP program,” Taylor said. “This should be a careful, deliberate process so you secure a plan that best meets your healthcare needs and budget.”
In addition to the Check-up events, people can call OSHIIP at 1-800-686-1578 with questions, and for enrollment assistance (beginning Oct. 15). A special Department Medicare Check-up and Open Enrollment Toolkit, which includes a list of plans (to be announced in Oct.), financial assistance information, and an events schedule, is available at www.insurance.ohio.gov. You can also like and follow OSHIIP on Facebook at www.facebook.com/OSHIIP.
During annual enrollment, beneficiaries can select one of several health coverage options: 1) Original Medicare paired with a stand-alone Part D prescription drug plan and perhaps a Medicare Supplement plan. 2) A Medicare Advantage Plan, which provides comprehensive health benefits including drug coverage. 3) Or, determine if their existing coverage will meet their health insurance needs for the upcoming year.
When reviewing plan options, Taylor said to consider the convenience of being able to use pharmacies near where you work or live, to take into account all out-of-pocket expenses, and ensure a plan’s covered drug list includes your prescriptions.
At the events, beneficiaries can learn about recent changes to Medicare such as the new Medicare deductibles, co-pay, and coinsurance amounts; Medicare Advantage and Part D plan options for 2013, and about financial assistance programs. Attendees should bring their prescriptions drugs list with dosages and preferred pharmacy, and information on retirement coverage, Veteran’s Administration (VA) or other medical care benefits they receive.
While the vast majority of insurance agents are upstanding professionals lending important advice, unfortunately there can be a few bad actors. Taylor asks Ohioans to watch for predatory sales practices during annual enrollment. Insurance agents are prohibited from using high pressure sales tactics, conducting door-to-door sales for Medicare Advantage plans, and representing themselves as being from Medicare. People who pose to be agents can also use similar tactics. If you feel victimized, get as much information as possible and call the Department’s fraud and enforcement hotline at 1-800-686-1527.
Those with Medicare questions and in need enrollment assistance, including financial assistance, can call OSHIIP at 1-800-686-1578, Monday through Friday, 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., or Medicare at 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227), 24 hours-a-day, seven days-a-week. Information is also available at www.medicare.gov.