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Medicare Open Enrollment Ends Dec. 7

Tuesday, November 26, 2013 • 6:39pm

SAGE Eldercare’s Union County State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP) counselors are available now to help beneficiaries make insurance decisions during the Medicare Open Enrollment, which ends Dec. 7, 2013 for changes that will be effective in 2014.

Medicare is stronger than ever with more benefits, better choices, and lower costs to beneficiaries.  Expanded Medicare benefits under the health care law (the Affordable Care Act) continue to be available – including certain free preventive benefits, cancer screenings, and an annual wellness visit.  Whether you choose Original Medicare or a Medicare Advantage plan -- take advantage of the open enrollment period to review cost, coverage, or both for next year.

  • More Benefits:  Certain preventive benefits – including cancer screenings – are available with no cost to patients when furnished by qualified and participating health professionals. The annual wellness visit allows people to sit down and discuss with their doctor their health care needs and the best ways to stay healthy.
  • Better Choices:  Medicare will notify beneficiaries about plan performance and use its online Plan Finder to encourage enrollment in quality plans.
  • Lower Costs:  Average premiums for 2014 for prescription drug coverage and Medicare health plans will remain stable.  People who are in the “donut hole” in Medicare’s prescription drug benefit will enjoy approximately 53 percent discounts on covered brand name drugs and see increased savings on generic drugs.

 The new Health Insurance Marketplace through the Affordable Care Act won’t affect your Medicare coverage and is not part of Medicare Open Enrollment which occurs from October 15 to December 7, 2013.  Medicare is not part of the Health Insurance Marketplace (through the Affordable Care Act) and you do not need to enroll in it to maintain or change your Medicare coverage.

 Your health needs change from year to year.  And, your health plan may change the benefits and costs each year too. That's why it’s important to evaluate your Medicare choices regularly.  Open Enrollment is the one time of year when ALL people with Medicare can see what new benefits Medicare has to offer and make changes to their coverage.

 It’s worth it to take the time to review and compare, but you don’t have to do it alone. Medicare help is available locally at SAGE Eldercare, 290 Broad Street, Summit.

  • Union County residents should call 908-297-6999 to speak with a certified state health insurance assistance counselor who can help answer your questions.
  • Visit www.medicare.gov/find-a-plan to compare your current coverage with all of the options that are available in your area, and enroll in a new plan if you decide to make a change.
  • Call 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227) 24-hours a day/7 days a week to find out more about your
  • Coverage options. TTY users should call 1-877-486-2048.
  • Review the Medicare & You 2014 handbook.  It is mailed to people with Medicare in September.
  • If you have limited income and resources, you may be able to get Extra Help paying your prescription drug coverage costs. For more information, visit www.socialsecurity.gov/i1020 or call
  • Social Security at 1-800-772-1213. TTY users should call 1-800-325-0778.

SAGE Eldercare is a unique community resource that offers a comprehensive array of programs and services for older adults and caregivers, promoting independence and quality of life.  Founded in 1954, SAGE is one of the few non-profit eldercare agencies in the United States, and the oldest in New Jersey, that offers a broad and comprehensive array of services under one roof that assist elderly, often frail, adults to remain independent in their own homes. 

Programs at SAGE Eldercare include: HomeCare; Meals On Wheels; Spend-A-Day Adult Day Health Center; GPS (Guidance, Planning and Support) Services; InfoCare free information and referral service; Fall Prevention Initiative; Home Repair Service; Grocery Shopping and Errand Service; Bill Paying Service; Holistic Living Services; Alzheimer’s and PREP caregiver support groups; Community Education; and Union County Medicare SHIP (State Health Insurance Assistance Program).  In addition, SAGE has operated a Furniture Restoration Workshop, run by volunteers who specialize in caning and rushing chairs and refinishing furniture, and a Resale Shop for more than 50 years.  Both provide essential funding that supports the organization’s programs and services for older adults in the community. 

 SAGE Eldercare serves 7,000 people throughout Union, Essex, Morris and Somerset Counties, as well as across the United States.  For more information, call 908.273.5550 or visit www.sageeldercare.org.

 

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