Medicare Part D enrollment period approaching

Published 8:37 pm Thursday, August 11, 2016

It’s already time to start thinking about Medicare Part D enrollment.

Although the open enrollment period doesn’t start until Oct. 15, now is the time to schedule appointments with certified counselors (consultants) who facilitate the process, according to Lindsey Blanton, aging services coordinator with the Mid-East Commission.

Medicare Part D enrollment involves choosing an assistance plan that best fits with one’s prescription medications, Blanton said. Those eligible include: seniors 65 years and older, people under 65 who have qualified for Social Security disability for at least 24 months, or people with end-stage renal disease.

Blanton said new clients can come during the enrollment period to assess their options, or those who are already Medicare beneficiaries can come to see if there is a better plan available. After receiving a client’s information, the Medicare system then formulates the best plan option.

“One of the major challenges that we see is confusion,” she said. “If they sit down with a certified counselor, we’ll explain what Medicare Part D is and we’ll review the changes.”

The consultation with a counselor only takes about an hour, and while it’s not required for current beneficiaries, adjusting plans can help save them money in the long run, as prescription plans can vary from year to year, according to Blanton.

She said last year the counselors saved beneficiaries a total of more than $127,000 just in Beaufort County.

According to Blanton, walk-ins are not accepted, so clients need to schedule a date ahead of time to be seen during the enrollment period.

“They need to go ahead and call and make an appointment now,” she said.

Medicare Part D open enrollment runs Oct. 15 to Dec. 7. Certified counselors will be available by appointment at the Grace Martin Harwell Senior Center, 310 W. Main St., Washington.

To set up an appointment, call JoAnne Poore at 252-975-9367.