Navigating the world of Medicare can be confusing and costly. Consumer Adviser Clark Howard says there are programs available to help you save money.

Medicare open enrollment starts today

Medicare open enrollment starts today and more than 2.3 million Ohioans will need to decide whether to keep or change their coverage for 2020.

From Oct. 15 to Dec. 7, it’s the annual open enrollment season for those covered by the federal health insurance program for those 65 and older, some people with disabilities and those with end-stage renal disease.

Don Mackos, CEO of Miamisburg-based RetireMedIQ, which brokers Medicare Advantage and supplement plans, said one of the big changes for 2020 is that many of the plans will start covering non-medical benefits that can affect health.

MORE: How to protect against Medicare fraud, predatory sales

The coverage differs by plan but ranges from meal services to transportation to help removing asthma triggers from the home.

“I saw one of the carriers is offering help defraying expenses for service dogs … It’s really trying to influence the lives of Medicare-eligible folks and that will affect their health care overall,” Mackos said.

Enrollees can decide to have an original Medicare plan, which is managed by the federal government, or one of the Medicare Advantage plans managed by commercial insurance companies.

Typically those with original Medicare also buy supplemental coverage to cover additional benefits like prescription drugs.

Just under 1.5 million Ohioans have original Medicare and about 860,000 have Medicare Advantage, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation.

━━━━━━━━

Medicare Check Up Day

These free events by Ohio Department of Insurance help people pick the right Medicare plan.

Montgomery County

Oct. 18: Jewish Family Services-Boonshoft Center, 525 Versailles Drive, Centerville. Counseling by appointment only. Call 937-610-1555 to schedule.

Oct. 22: Huber Heights Senior Center, 6428 Chambersburg Road Huber Heights, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Counseling by appointment only. Call 937-233-9999 to schedule.

Nov. 1: Heck Center, 201 N. Main St., Englewood, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Counseling by appointment only. Call 937-836-5929 to schedule.

━━━━━━━━

Dayton-based CareSource is among insurers with Medicare Advantage plans. The nonprofit has about 30,800 Medicare members across the MyCare and Medicare Advantage programs and is gearing up for open enrollment season.

CareSource has expanded coverage of Medicare Advantage to include 23 new counties in 2020 — including Preble and Shelby counties — and is in 49 counties in Ohio.

Experts say it’s important for those covered by Medicare to review what costs are associated with the plan, and what coverage they are getting, such as whether all the medications they take are covered and whether their doctor is in network.

MORE: Cheaper prices, more competition ahead for Ohio ACA exchanges in 2020

Each year, medical needs and financial situations can change and plans can change the benefits.

“Each year consumers should research their current plan and shop other plans to ensure they are receiving the benefits they need. It’s smart to look beyond premium costs and research pharmacy benefits — including over the counter medications — as well as dental, vision, fitness options and maximum out-of-pocket protection,” said Stephen Ringel, CareSource Ohio Market president.

Ohio Senior Health Insurance Information Program, a division of Ohio Department of Insurance, will hold a series of “Medicare Check-Up Day” events around the state to provide information about open enrollment. this is the info in the box

Those with questions who are unable to attend a Medicare Check-Up Day event can call the state at 1-800-686-1578, Monday through Friday, 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., or call Medicare at 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227), 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Information, including specific plan details, is available at www.medicare.gov.

During open enrollment, Ohio Department of Insurance Director Jillian Froment warned Ohioans to be aware of predatory sales practices and Medicare scams, which can pick up this time of year.

No one should be calling or knocking on doors and saying they are with Medicare or asking for any kind of payment or personal information. The only contact seniors should get will be from someone calling back or contacting them about a scheduled appointment.

If consumers suspect wrongdoing, they should call the department’s Fraud and Enforcement hotline at 1-800-686-1527 or the Senior Medicare Patrol at 1-800-488-6070.

━━━━━━━━

Medicare Check Up Day

These free events by Ohio Department of Insurance help people pick the right Medicare plan.

Greene County

Oct. 23: Xenia Community Center, 1265 W. Second St., Xenia. Counseling available at event.

Miami County

Oct 21: YWCA, 418 N. Wayne St., Piqua, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Counseling by appointment only. Call 937-773-6626.

Thank you for reading the Dayton Daily News and for supporting local journalism. Subscribers: log in for access to your daily ePaper and premium newsletters.

Thank you for supporting in-depth local journalism with your subscription to the Dayton Daily News. Get more news when you want it with email newsletters just for subscribers. Sign up here.

X