Open enrollment

1It’s open enrollment season and for anyone on Medicare, Jodi Berry, director of Commission on Aging, and Felicia Iversen are here to help. From Oct. 15 – Dec. 7, people are free to explore what plans may work better for next year.

2 Berry said even if people are happy with last year’s plan, they need to look at open enrollment options. Every year, insurance companies have until Oct. 15 to decide what medications they will cover and things can drastically change with anyone’s current plan. For example, Berry recently met with a client with a plan that cost around $300 for the whole year last year. This year, that same plan would have cost him $75,000. It’s important to look at options, because after Dec. 7, people will be locked in for the year.

3 Especially for people on a fixed income, Medicare costs are important. Berry said it’s not uncommon for people to save around $1,000 after finding a new plan for next year.

4 Berry and Iversen are both certified senior health insurance program (SHIP) counselors and have been working with Medicare as SHIP counselors for five years.

5Neither Berry nor Iversen sell insurance and do not profit from any plan chosen with their help.

6People with limited income/resources may qualify for Extra Help to pay for some health costs. Medicare estimates more than 2 million people with Medicare may be eligible for Extra Help but aren’t currently enrolled in the program. To qualify, annual income must be less than $18,735 annually ($25,365 for married couples). Even if annual income is higher, people may still qualify. Resources must also be limited to $14,390 ($28,720 for married couples). To see if you qualify, apply online at secure.ssa.gov/i1020/start or call 1-800-772-1213.

7This time of year, people are strongly encouraged to make an appointment to see Berry or Iversen at the Aging and Transit Services Building (old armory) at 2190 West Holly in Sidney. They can be reached at 406-433-3701.

8Those coming to an appointment must bring Medicare card, and list of medications and their dosages.

9Insurance plans can be switched on-site and no payment is due at the time of appointment. Berry and Iversen do not collect payment for the plan chosen.

10People can also use the new Plan Finder at medicare.gov to compare plans, or call 1-800-MEDICARE.

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