The GeorgiaCares State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP) is helping Medicare recipients make informed decisions about which prescription drug and Advantage plan options are best for them. Beginning on October 15, consumers can compare available plans by visiting www.Medicare.gov. They may also call GeorgiaCares toll-free at 1-800-669-8387 for personalized assistance.
Open enrollment for Medicare Part C and D begins November 15, and recipients will have until December 31, 2010, to make their choices. With so many options available, choosing the right one is important. This is the first year that there will be one election period for both Part C and D plans. After this time, plan changes can be made during the annual Disenrollment Period of January 1 - February 15th of each year. During the Disenrollment Period, beneficiaries will only be allowed to leave a Medicare Part C plan and return to Original Medicare (Parts A and B) with the option of choosing a prescription drug plan.
“The GeorgiaCares SHIP network provides one-on-one assistance, so that callers can get personalized help as they compare their options and decide on which plans best meet their needs,” said Dr. James J. Bulot, director of the DHS Division of Aging Services.
GeorgiaCares SHIP counselors are available through the statewide network of Area Agencies on Aging and will provide community education sessions and answer hotline calls to help beneficiaries understand their options for next year. Beneficiaries can call GeorgiaCares toll-free at 1-800-669-8387 or Medicare at 1-800-Medicare (1-800-633-4227) for assistance.
GeorgiaCares SHIP and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) advise people who wish to make a change to do so as close as possible to the November 15 opening date to ensure their coverage will be available on January 1, 2011. Companies began marketing their plans on October 1.
GeorgiaCares SHIP services are free and also assist Medicare beneficiaries on Medicare, Medicaid and Medigap matters, including long-term care insurance, claims, resolution to billing problems, information and referral on public benefit programs aimed at those with limited incomes and assets, and other health care insurance information.
GeorgiaCares SHIP urges everyone to review their coverage and make sure that any changes to the plan for 2011 will still meet their needs. Beneficiaries who do not want to make a change can remain in their plan from 2010.
Beneficiaries who want to consider all of their options will have access to help from many sources, including a notice of any coverage changes from their drug plan; the enhanced Medicare Drug Plan Finder at www.medicare.gov; the Medicare & You 2011 annual handbook that explains Medicare coverage; 1-800-Medicare (1-800-633-4227), which will be available 24/7; and GeorgiaCares - Local Help for People with Medicare, 1-800-669-8387.
For more information about services available to older Georgians and their families, visit the DHS Division of Aging Services at http://www.aging.dhr.georgia.gov or call (866) 55-AGING (552-4464).