October 15-21, 2014

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APPRISE: help with Medicare choices

APPRISE is Pennsylvania's state health insurance counseling program.

Specially trained APPRISE counselors are available to provide reliable, easy-to-understand information to help you make choices about Medicare; Medicaid; Part D prescription plans; Medicare Advantage; Medigap; and private insurance programs, such as long-term care. APPRISE counselors can answer questions about: 

Prescription coverage, including Medicare Part D, PACE, PACENET, veteran’s benefits and drug manufacturer’s assistance programs
Medicare coverage, claims and billing
Medicare supplements and Medigap insurance
Long-term care insurance
Medicaid and Healthy Horizons, a program to help low-income seniors pay their Medicare premiums

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Open enrollment for Medicare starts

As we head into autumn, people with Medicare once again need to consider their options for next year. Even if you like the coverage you have now, you should spend at least a few minutes making sure it will still meet your needs next year. Here are some key questions that people with Medicare should ask.

When is the enrollment period?

Medicare’s open enrollment period runs, as usual, from October 15 to December 7. During this time, you can make changes in your Part D prescription drug plan or Medicare Advantage plan, or, if you don’t have one, you can select one for the first time. 

How is this different from open enrollment for health insurance marketplaces?
If you have Medicare, the health insurance marketplace is not for you. Medicare coverage and its open enrollment period are completely different from those of the health insurance marketplaces (which are also known as exchanges). 

The health insurance marketplace offers coverage and financial assistance for people who do not qualify for Medicare – usually, people under age 65 who do not have permanent disabilities. The marketplace open enrollment period starts and ends later than Medicare’s. But if you have friends or loved ones who need coverage and do not qualify for Medicare, encourage them to check out www.healthcare.gov. 

What are my options?
During Medicare open enrollment, if you have a Part D (prescription drug) plan or Medicare Advantage plan, you can change it. You can also join a Part D or Medicare Advantage plan for the first time.

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