Medicare is part of growing older. This week, as the open enrollment period for the Federal health care and prescription drug plan program begins, residents of The Villages join seniors across the country in reviewing their coverage. The open enrollment period beings Sunday and runs through the end of the year. This month-and-a-half period allows participants an opportunity to make changes to their Medicare plan or choose a different plan.
This year, because some beneficiaries will see changes in the costs and coverage in their plan, officials from The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) are urging that people carefully review their plans, even if they are happy with their current coverage.
The CMS (an agency under the US Department of Health and Human Services) provides tools to review coverage and costs of Medicare health or drug plans at the Medicare web site (www.medicare.gov), but residents of The Villages can also get help reviewing their plans locally.
Several volunteers from Serving Health Insurance Needs of Elders (SHINE), a division of the Florida Department of Elder Affairs, live in The Villages — part of the organization’s Public Service Area No. 3. These volunteers will be offering free Medicare counseling every-other Friday afternoon.
According to the Elder Affairs web site, SHINE volunteers will be at the Chula Vista Recreation Center on the 1st and 3rd Fridays of the month, from 3 to 5:50pm. This SHINE group serves residents in Marion and Lake Counties.
Additional information about counseling sites can be found on the SHINE web site or by calling the Elder Helpline at 1-800-96-ELDER (1-800-963-5337). You can also get Medicare information by calling 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227).
Meanwhile, Preferred Care Partners, a Medicare Advantage provider, with office in The Villages was ranked nationally for their plan. Their Premium Advantage Plan is the only Medicare Advantage plan in Lake, Marion and Sumter-county area that qualifies for the 2010 Senior Choice Gold Award.
Award recipients were selected based on a study comparing the cost-sharing effectiveness and value of more than 200 plans. HealthMetrix Research Inc., a national independent managed care research firm, conducted the study.