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In the News

A closer look: Medicare annual open enrollment

Friday, September 13, 2013

As the annual Medicare open enrollment gets underway from Oct. 15 through Dec. 7, 2013, CAPCOG Area Agency on Aging’s Benefits Counseling Program is on hand to help eligible consumers sort the various options.

Each year, Medicare participants get a chance to adjust their health insurance coverage, whether comparing, choosing or changing their Medicare and prescription drug plans for the following 12-month period. Get a closer look at Medicare’s annual open enrollment and CAPCOG’s regional role in navigating the process.

Who’s eligible for Medicare coverage?

People age 65 or older, younger than 65 with certain disabilities or of any age with end-stage renal disease can participate. The Area Agency on Aging’s (AAA) benefits counselors can help consumers 60 or older, their caregivers and anyone who’s Medicare eligible.

What coverage changes does open enrollment allow? ?

  • Switching from Original Medicare to a Medicare Ad-vantage Plan — or vice versa. ?
  • Switching Medicare Advantage Plans. ?
  • Switching from a Medicare Advantage Plan that doesn’t offer drug coverage to one that does — or vice versa. ?
  • Joining, switching or dropping Medicare prescription drug plan coverage.

How does the Area Agency on Aging help Medicare consumers? ?

  • The Benefits Counseling Program offers state-certified staff and volunteers for free, one-on-one, confidential sessions to answer questions, review forms, explain the enrollment process and more. ?
  • Counselors can demystify potential confusion regarding the Affordable Care Act and Medicare, especially as Medicare’s own open enrollment overlaps the new federal health exchange’s kickoff enrollment period that runs Oct. 1, 2013, through March 31, 2014. ?
  • AAA, funded in part by the Texas Department of Aging and Disability Services, partners with other agencies and organizations across the region for trainings and other outreach opportunities. Staff work with the Texas Senior Medicare Patrol, for example, to empower and educate participants on fraud prevention, and AAA maintains office hours at the WellMed Charitable Foundation Senior Community Center in Austin to reach a mutual audience.

How can local governments, organizations and agencies team with AAA for Medicare open enrollment? ?

  • Schedule a benefits counselor presentation for your next public meeting, addressing topics such as Medicare preventive services, medication coverage, eligibility, fraud prevention and more. > Go
  • As the Area Agency on Aging launches its fall 2013 season of free open enrollment presentations across the region, check AAA's Web page for times and dates to share with constituents. > Go

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