Delaware County Offers Free Medicare

Counseling for Seniors

Medicare Open Enrollment to run from October 15 – December 7

Informational Flyer

Now is the time for Delaware County senior citizens to examine their 2018 Medicare coverage, and possibly revise that coverage to meet changing healthcare needs. Open Enrollment for Medicare coverage started on Sunday, Oct. 15 to give seniors time to review and make changes to their coverage.

As with last year, beneficiaries will need to make their final selection for next year’s Medicare coverage by Dec. 7. This change in Open Enrollment dates ensures Medicare has enough time to process the beneficiary’s choice so coverage can begin without interruption on Jan. 1, 2016.

Delaware County, through COSA and the APPRISE Program, is offering FREE counseling to assist residents in making informed decisions about their Medicare health insurance coverage. People with Medicare will see some significant changes to Medicare enrollment rules this fall. If they miss the opportunity to make adjustments to their plans now, they will have to wait another year.

“It’s critical for seniors to evaluate their Medicare options now,” said Councilman John McBlain. “Programs change, plus an individual’s health or living situation can change. Having the wrong plan can be very costly to seniors, so we recommend that they examine their coverage and take advantage of the counseling offered.”
There are important changes ahead for the Medicare Annual Enrollment period.

  • Medicare’s Annual Enrollment Period (AEP) will take place Oct. 15 – Dec. 7, 2018. People with Medicare can make changes in their Medicare coverage by enrolling in a different Part D plan, changing from Medicare Advantage to Original Medicare, or vice versa.
  • Medicare’s Annual Disenrollment Period (ADP) will take place from Jan. 1-Feb. 14, 2018.  During this time Medicare beneficiaries cannot use the disenrollment period to switch Medicare Advantage plans. People with Medicare Advantage (MA) plans will only be able to return to Original Medicare and/or join a stand-alone prescription drug (Part D) plan during the Annual Disenrollment period.

Between October 3rd and December 28th, trained APPRISE health insurance counselors will be available to senior citizens by appointment at the COSA office in Eddystone, and on select dates at locations throughout Delaware County.

APPRISE counselors are available to provide free counseling by phone. Seniors can also make an appointment to meet one-on-one with an APPRISE counselor. To reach the Delaware County APPRISE office call (484) 494-3769.  A high volume of callers is expected this year. APPRISE is the State Health Insurance Assistance Program administered locally by Senior Community Services.

Trained APPRISE counselors can help Medicare beneficiaries in the following areas:

  • Review current coverage
  • Check qualifications for low-income programs
  • Compare plans with all available options
  • Search for specific plans online that meet specific prescription and medical needs
  • Give easy-to-understand answers to questions about Medicare
  • Help enroll in a plan online 

People with Medicare can make an appointment for free one-on-one APPRISE counseling at numerous locations throughout the county. To view a complete schedule, visit www.delcosa.org.  APPRISE services are free. For an appointment at COSA call Terry Levine at 610-447-1767. Registration is required for one-on-one counseling.

  • COSA office: Appointments are available for free, individualized counseling at the COSA office, 206 Eddystone Ave., Eddystone from 9 a.m.-noon on Oct. 31, Nov. 14 and Dec. 15, 2017

Beneficiaries may also use online tools available at www.medicare.gov (the Medicare Prescription Drug Plan Finder or Medicare Options Compare for health coverage) to review options for 2016. They can compare cost and coverage information on plans serving their area by entering their Medicare number, age, health status, local pharmacy, and their current prescriptions.

Due to recent changes in Medicare requirements and payments to private Medicare Advantage plans, both now and in the future, insurers may opt to change plan benefits, provider networks, and cost.
Plans might respond to the upcoming shifts in Medicare by:

  • Raising beneficiaries’ premiums and/or cost-sharing
  • Reducing their network of providers
  • Reducing extra benefits
  • Making quality improvements to obtain bonuses
  • Withdrawing from the marketplace entirely

Others may not make dramatic changes. Beneficiaries should check their coverage carefully each year to ensure they are enrolled in a plan that will continue to meet their health needs and budget.  

“Insurance companies that sponsor Medicare plans have the option to change what they offer each year. Co-pays, deductibles and covered medications might change,” said COSA Director Denise V. Stewart. “People should gather their insurance cards, a list of their prescriptions and information they’ve received from Medicare and Social Security, and they should meet with a counselor to evaluate their coverage.”

For information: The Medicare annual enrollment period runs Oct. 15 – Dec. 7. To view a schedule of Medicare presentations and individual counseling sessions, visit www.delcosa.org. People can also contact the APPRISE office at (484) 494-3769. Also utilize the tools available at www.medicare.gov.