Are you new to Medicare and want to better understand the program? Do you have questions about eligibility, signing up, Original Medicare Parts A and B, Medigap (supplement insurance), Part D, Medicare Advantage Plans or how to get help paying for Medicare costs?
The Senior Health Insurance Counseling for Kansas (SHICK) Assistance Program can help. A SHICK options class will be offered on Tuesday, Sept. 19th from 4:00 to 5:30 pm at the Derby Friends Church, 1034 N. Woodlawn. Registration is required. Call the church at (316) 788-1751 or email firstname.lastname@example.org or call SHICK staff at (316) 660-0126. There is no cost to attend.
If you are already on Medicare, you should know that the open enrollment period for Part D runs from Oct. 15 through Dec. 7. During this time, beneficiaries have the opportunity to change their Medicare Part D prescription drug plans.
All beneficiaries should review their coverage even if they’re content with their current plan.
Medicare Part D plans can vary in terms of cost, coverage, and benefits. Here are some reasons to review Medicare Part D:
1. Changing health needs: As time passes, health needs may evolve and you might require different medications or dosages. Reviewing your Part D plan allows you to ensure that your current medications are covered and that you’re not paying for unnecessary or non-preferred drugs.2
2. Cost savings: By reviewing your Part D plan, you may identify cost-saving opportunities. Different plans have varying premiums, copayments, and deductibles. By comparing plans, you might find one that offers the same coverage at a lower cost or better coverage for a slightly higher premium.
3. Formulary changes: Part D plans have formularies, which are lists of covered drugs. These formularies can change from year to year, so it’s important to check if your medications are still covered and at what cost.
4. Network changes: Part D plans have networks of pharmacies where you can get your medications at the most favorable terms. If your preferred pharmacy is no longer in your plan’s network, it could impact your out-of-pocket costs.
5. Plan ratings: The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) provide star ratings for Medicare Part D plans based on their performance and customer satisfaction. Reviewing these ratings can give you insights into the quality and reliability of different plans.
Reviewing your Part D drug plan can seem daunting, but there is help available. The Medicare Plan Finder on the official Medicare website, medicare.gov, can simplify the process by comparing plans based on your specific drugs and pharmacy preference.
You can also meet with a SHICK Medicare counselor. To make an appointment, call the SHICK office in Sedgwick County at (316) 660-0126. SHICK has offices in the Sedgwick County Extension Center, 7001 W 21st St. N.; the WSU Metroplex, 5015 East 29th St. N.; and the Oaklawn Activity Center, 4904 S. Clifton Ave. Residents of Butler and Harvey counties should call the Central Plains Area Agency on Aging at (316) 660-5132 or (800) 367-7298, ext. 5132.
Counseling is also available by phone. Appointments are available on a first come, first served basis.
Melissa Reeves Schrag is the adult and aging agent with the K-State Research and Extension-Sedgwick County office.