ALBANY — The New York State Office for the Aging (NYSOFA) reminds older New Yorkers that this year’s Medicare open enrollment period runs from Oct. 15 through Dec. 7. Medicare health and prescription drug plans can make changes each year to costs, coverage, and what providers and pharmacies are in their networks. The open enrollment period is when all people with Medicare can change their health plans and prescription drug coverage for the following year to better meet their needs. Plan changes take effect Jan. 1, 2021.

“People’s health and financial status can change over the course of a year—especially this year, due to the impact of COVID-19. Plans also can change what they will cover as well as adjust the cost to the beneficiary. It’s important for older adults to review their plans—what they cover and what they cost—to ensure they are getting the best plan for themselves,” said NYSOFA Acting Director Greg Olsen. “Health Insurance Information, Counseling and Assistance Program (HIICAP) counselors at each local office for the aging can provide older New Yorkers with the information needed to make an informed choice about a plan that is a good value and meets their health care and prescription drug coverage needs.”

Several resources are available to help Medicare beneficiaries and their families review and compare current plan coverage with new plan offerings:

Medicare.gov has comprehensive information for people interested in signing up or changing their plans. The Medicare Plan Finder tool provides a personalized comparison of plan choices.

1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227) offers around-the-clock assistance for those who want to find out more about coverage options. TTY users should call 1-877-486-2048. Multilingual counseling is available.

The Medicare & You handbook includes a summary of Medicare benefits, rights, and protections; lists of available health and drug plans; and answers to frequently asked questions about Medicare.

One-on-one counseling assistance is available from HIICAP counselors at each local office for the aging or through the HIICAP toll free line: 1-800-701-0501.

Older adults remain at greater risk for COVID-19, and staying healthy during this pandemic is critical. Older individuals who have had Medicare Part B (medical insurance) for longer than 12 months are eligible for a yearly wellness visit at low or no cost to develop or update a personalized plan to help prevent or manage disease and disabilities based on their current health and risk factors.

In addition, Medicare recipients who have limited incomes and resources may qualify for extra help with Medicare prescription drug plan costs. Older adults may apply online or call Social Security at 1-800-772-1213 (TTY users should call 1-800-325-0778 to find out more.)

During the open enrollment period, NYSOFA and Medicare also remind older adults to treat their Medicare number as they do their social security number and credit card information. People with Medicare should never give their personal information to anyone arriving at their home uninvited or making unsolicited phone calls selling Medicare-related products or services. If someone calls and asks for a recipient’s Medicare number or other personal information, hang up and call 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227).

Beneficiaries who believe they are a victim of fraud or identity theft should contact Medicare. More information is available at Help Fight Medicare Fraud.

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