Last updated: June 01. 2013 7:04AM - 206 Views
Whitney Weaver
Staff Writer

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As we age, our health needs change yearly, and so may the benefits and costs of health care plans, which is why selecting the right Medicare plan is important.

The Annual Election Period, through Dec. 7, is the time of year when all people with Medicare can see what new benefits Medicare has to offer and make changes to their coverage if needed. Taking advantage of the Annual Election Period may save individuals money, improve their coverage or both.

Reviewing and comparing Medicare plans is essential to getting the right coverage for the right price, but can be a confusing and tedious task. Fortunately, help is available. Louise Caudill, Ashe Services for Aging Senior Center Director, reminds all senior citizens that the Senior Health Insurance Information Program (SHIIP) is available to answer all questions and concerns regarding Medicare.

Representatives from Medicare and SHIIP have eased the election process for many seniors from year to year at Ashe Services for Aging by providing knowledgeable assistance with reviewing and making necessary changes to coverage.

Final selections for next year’s Medicare coverage must be made by Dec. 7, ensuring that Medicare has enough time to process changes so coverage can begin without interruption on Jan. 1.

Some seniors may also qualify for Medicare Part D assistance programs based on income levels. A low-income subsidy is available to all on Medicare with limited income and resources. The subsidy would help lower premium, deductible, drug costs, and eliminate the coverage gap for those who meet the income limit.

For more information, or to schedule an appointment call (336) 246-4347. Appointments may also be scheduled at the front desk of the Senior Center.

Other resources for Medicare information can be found by:

• Visiting www.medicare.gov/find-a-plan to compare current coverage with all available options.

• Calling 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227) 24-hours a day, seven days a week, to find out more about coverage options. TTY users should call 1-877-486-2048.

• Reviewing the Medicare & You 2012 handbook. It is mailed to people with Medicare in September.

• Getting one-on-one help from SHIIP by calling 1-800-443-9354, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.

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