Medicare open enrollment season has arrived

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Medicare Open Enrollment has begun, and to help Rhode Island’s 200,000 Medicare beneficiaries navigate the process, the Division of Elderly Affairs is offering free, personalized health insurance counseling through the Senior Health Insurance Program (SHIP).

Open Enrollment began on Oct. 15 and ends on Dec. 7.

SHIP provides one-to-one, unbiased counseling to seniors, adults with disabilities, families and caregivers. The SHIP counselors provide assistance so that Medicare beneficiaries can make the most appropriate choice for their healthcare needs. Beneficiaries are encouraged to review their current coverage and make any necessary changes to their plan.

“Having access to high-quality healthcare is vital to building healthy communities. Medicare Open Enrollment is a crucial time to review health benefits and make sure you have the coverage you need,” said Director of Elderly Affairs Charles Fogarty. “This year there are many plan options to consider, and coverage for the same plan may be different than in the past. Open Enrollment is the time to shop for the best plan that meets your needs. Our highly trained SHIP staff and volunteers can help you understand your choices and your rights. Open Enrollment should be looked at as an opportunity to explore Medicare health plans and Part D plans to ensure you are receiving the best coverage and value for your premium dollar.”

In the most recent measurement period, the Administration for Community Living (ACL) commended the RIDEA for providing Medicare counseling services that are among the best, ranking RIDEA’s SHIP second amongst 54 programs throughout the country.

"SHIP counseling is extremely effective in protecting Medicare beneficiaries from drastic cost increases," said Fogarty. "I am delighted that the Rhode Island SHIP continues to be recognized as one of the best in the country by our federal partners. Expanding access to counseling, and getting beneficiaries the best of the three ‘C’s: Cost, Coverage and Convenience is central to our work to empower older adults to live healthy, happy, and independent lives."

The Rhode Island Division of Elderly Affairs is joining with agency partners to sponsor more than 160 events in communities across the state during the annual Medicare Open Enrollment period. SHIP counselors, by appointment, will be available at all Open Enrollment events to provide free, confidential, individual counseling to help beneficiaries find the most comprehensive and cost-effective Medicare health plan and Part D coverage.

The full Open Enrollment event schedule is available by calling SHIP, toll-free at 1-888-884-8721.

TTY users can call 462-0740. The schedule is also available by calling THE POINT, Rhode Island’s Aging and Disability Resource Center Network, at 462-4444. TTY users can call 462-4445.

About Medicare

Medicare is the federal health insurance program for people who are 65 or older, certain younger people with disabilities and people with End-Stage Renal Disease (permanent kidney failure requiring dialysis or a transplant, sometimes called ESRD).

About the Senior Health Insurance Program (SHIP)

SHIP is a free health benefits counseling service for Medicare beneficiaries and their families or caregivers. SHIPs mission is to educate, advocate, counsel and empower people to make informed healthcare benefit decisions. SHIP is an independent program funded by Federal agencies and is not affiliated with the insurance industry.

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