Guest column: Use Medicare’s annual open enrollment to your advantage
(EDITOR’S NOTE: Today’s guest column was written by Ohio Lieutenant Governor and Department of Insurance Director Mary Taylor)
Making decisions about health care coverage and your insurance needs are some of the toughest and often most complicated choices Ohioans face. Those decisions are especially important for Medicare beneficiaries, who must consider many options and what those options mean to household budgets. With Medicare’s Annual Open Enrollment Period already underway and coming to an end in just a few weeks, it is time to review and evaluate what best meets your needs.
Open enrollment started this year on October 15, much earlier than in past years, and will end on December 7. Fortunately, the Ohio Department of Insurance has a program designated to assist Medicare beneficiaries. The Ohio Senior Health Insurance Information Program (OSHIIP) has been helping Medicare enrollees for nearly 20 years by providing free and objective information. Our dedicated staff is standing by to walk you through all of your Medicare choices and prescription drug options.
For example, Part D and Medicare Advantage plans can change year-to-year in terms of benefits offered, provider networks and premium costs. There are also programs designed to assist low income Ohioans with prescription drug costs and their Part B premiums, as well as Medigap Insurance, which covers gaps found in traditional Medicare. Ultimately, there are a number of different factors Ohioans should keep in mind to determine what plan best meets their needs while staying within their budget.
Department of Insurance staff and OSHIIP volunteers have been trained to provide free plan comparisons and prescription drug plan evaluations to all Ohio Medicare beneficiaries. Our staff travels throughout the state to participate in events in every county during the open enrollment period. Working with beneficiaries each and every day, the success stories are countless and reflect the passionate work of the Department on behalf of Ohio consumers.
On a daily basis, consumers are reviewing their options with our counselors and finding ways to save money by switching plans or making adjustments that meet each beneficiary’s unique needs. But not every Medicare enrollee necessarily needs to change plans every year. To be confident that this year’s plan is the best coverage for you in 2012, we encourage all Medicare beneficiaries to compare their options by contacting OSHIIP for a free, personalized comparison report.
As the 2011 Medicare Annual Open Enrollment comes to a close early next month, the Department of Insurance is committed to educating, protecting and serving beneficiaries by providing the best unbiased information available to enrollees and their families.
If you or a loved one has questions or concerns about this year’s open enrollment, please contact our staff by calling toll free at 1-800-686-1578, or read more about Medicare by visiting the Ohio Department of Insurance website at www.insurance.ohio.gov.