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PA MEDI provides free health insurance guidance for Medicare

Bill Conallen

Throughout the nation, State Health Insurance Programs (SHIPs) are preparing to help Medicare beneficiaries navigate their health insurance requirements. In Pennsylvania, the state’s SHIP program, known as Pennsylvania Medicare Education and Decision Insight (PA MEDI), offers older Pennsylvanians a confidential, unbiased and comprehensive information platform about health insurance options.

Medicare open enrollment for 2024 coverage runs from Oct. 15 through Dec. 7. This is an essential time for older adults to make informed choices about their coverage options.

Trained volunteers under PA MEDI can guide individuals through all aspects of Medicare, including Medicare Advantage and supplementary plans, prescription drug coverage, and the Medicare appeals process. PA MEDI helps older Pennsylvanians compare diverse plan options and as sociated costs, empowering them to make well-informed decisions based on their specific needs.

In collaboration with the Center for Advocacy for the Rights and Interests of Elders (CARIE) and Einstein Medical Center, PCA provides PA MEDI health insurance counseling services without charge to Philadelphia residents who are eligible for Medicare, as well as their caregivers. (For more information about Medicare eligibility, Click Here>>)

By leveraging a staff that mainly comprises volunteer counselors, many who have gone through the enrollment process themselves, the program strives to better cater to the needs of Medicare beneficiaries, promoting an impartial approach grounded in personalized interactions.

“Volunteer counselors are the backbone of the PA MEDI initiative; their involvement bolsters the program’s effectiveness, which would be unsustainable without their dedication,” explained Lynda Pickett, PCA’s assistant director of volunteer services. “Volunteers derive immense satisfaction from aiding beneficiaries in navigating the complexities of transitioning to Medicare, setting a great example of how their efforts enhance a person’s daily life. They serve as a crucial resource for Medicare beneficiaries who find the array of available options bewildering.”

After receiving support from PA MEDI, many volunteer counselors were motivated to share their newly acquired knowledge of the Medicare system with others. PA MEDI volunteer counselors receive extensive training covering Medicare, Medicaid, Medicare Advantage (an encompassing alternative to the original Medicare, designated as Part C), Medigap (supplementary Medicare insurance), Medicare prescription drug coverage (Part D), procedures for appeals, fraud detection, abuse prevention and more.

Qualifying Medicare recipients are offered informed, personalized choices that consider a range of factors, such as health conditions and financial circumstances. In addition, PA MEDI assesses eligibility for Pennsylvania’s cost-saving programs related to Medicare, including Pharmaceutical Assistance Contract for the Elderly (PACE), Extra Help and the Medicare Savings Program.

“There is a prevailing sense of uncertainty among Medicare beneficiaries about the potential money-saving avenues available to them through the PA MEDI program,” said Deena Pollock, a PA MEDI counselor at Einstein Medical Center. “We work confidentially and individually with beneficiaries, taking their health care needs and preferences into account. Using this comprehensive approach, we can save Medicare beneficiaries money, sometimes, hundreds of dollars each month!”

Medicare beneficiaries in Philadelphia can arrange for a PA MEDI counseling session by contacting Einstein Medical Center at 215-456-7600 and CARIE at 215-545-5728. Those seeking PA MEDI program consultations are advised to have their Medicare cards readily available prior to scheduled counseling sessions. Pennsylvania residents outside of Philadelphia can call the toll-free PA MEDI Helpline at 1-800-783-7067, weekdays from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Categories: Health Milestones eNews News about PCA


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