Medicare Open Enrollment Underway

Free Help Available to People with Medicare Questions

LONG BRANCH, NJ, October 15, 2013Medicare Open Enrollment UnderwaySeniors who may have questions about their Medicare options for 2014 are encouraged to contact the Senior Health Insurance Program (SHIP), a free program administered by Family and Children’s Service (FCS), to schedule a free, confidential counseling session with a trained, unbiased counselor. Family & Children’s Service is the oldest nonprofit social service agency in Monmouth County serving the vulnerable through education, intervention, care and counseling.

Open enrollment for Medicare and Medicare Part D (Medicare prescription drug coverage) began Tuesday, Oct. 15 and runs through Dec. 7.

During this time period, current or newly eligible Medicare beneficiaries can:

  • Change from Original Medicare to a Medicare Advantage Plan.
  • Change from a Medicare Advantage Plan back to Original Medicare.
  • Switch from one Medicare Advantage Plan to another Medicare Advantage Plan.
  • Switch from a Medicare Advantage Plan that doesn’t offer drug coverage to a Medicare Advantage Plan that offers drug coverage.
  • Switch from a Medicare Advantage Plan that offers drug coverage to a Medicare Advantage Plan that doesn’t offer drug coverage.
  • Join a Medicare Prescription Drug Plan.
  • Switch from one Medicare Prescription Drug Plan to another
  • Drop your Medicare prescription drug coverage completely.

Trained SHIP counselors help seniors through Medicare options“Our trained SHIP counselors are here to help seniors cut through the confusion that sometimes keeps them from understanding their Medicare options and find the coverage that best meets their needs,” says Samantha White, FCS Manager of Volunteer Services.

SHIP counseling is free, unbiased, confidential, and available to anyone with questions about Medicare, regardless of income. SHIP counselors do not provide legal advice or sell, recommend or endorse any specific insurance product, agent or insurance provider.

SHIP volunteers are also trained to help seniors determine if they qualify for Medicare’s “Extra Help” program to help with prescription drug costs. Under the program, qualified subscribers might pay no more than $2.60 for each generic drug and $6.50 for each brand name drug. Since income and resource limits change each year, it’s important for seniors to investigate their eligibility. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services estimates that more than 2 million people with Medicare may be eligible for the subsidy, but are not currently enrolled to take advantage of the these savings.

FCS currently has 17 volunteer counselors serving at 16 different locations throughout Monmouth County. To schedule your free, confidential counseling session with a trained, unbiased counselor, or to learn more about becoming a SHIP volunteer, please call FCS at 732-728-1331.