Do you need help learning more about and choosing a Medicare Advantage or Part D prescription drug plan?
There’s good news. This year, in-person events are back for the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic canceled the sessions for regional and statewide organizations that offer assistance. In addition, organizations are still hosting online and phone options for consumers who would prefer those methods.
Direction Home, which is the Akron-Canton Area Agency on Aging and Disabilities, and the Ohio Department of Insurance's Senior Health Insurance Information Program (OSHIIP) offer unbiased information and education to help seniors and their loved ones learn about the various plans and how to pick the best option.
Here are more details:
Direction Home’s annual workshops with a meal are returning as an in-person event after taking two years off for the pandemic. There also are virtual seminars.
Direction Home seminars provide information about Medicare Advantage plans and local charts of what is available. Counselors are not available for one-on-one consultation.
For seniors unable to attend the lunch workshops, Direction Home has comparison charts of available Medicare Advantage plans in Summit, Stark, Wayne and Portage counties and information on Part D and MediGap plans at: www.dhad.org/resources-education/medicare-education
For seniors uncomfortable with technology, leave a message with the county you need at 330-776-4620 or email email@example.com and the chart will be mailed.
In-person workshop with a meal: People must register by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or calling 330-776-4620.
Oct. 28 at the Hartville Kitchen, 1015 Edison St. NW, Check-in begins at 11 a.m. for the 11:30-12:30 p.m. seminar. Lunch will be provided at 1 p.m.
Nov. 18 at the Hilton Garden Inn Twinsburg, 8971 Wilcox Drive. Check-in begins at 9:30 a.m. with a buffet breakfast provided for the 10 a.m to 11 a.m. seminar.
Nov. 30 at the Hilton Akron Fairlawn, 3180 W. Market St. Check-in begins at 11 a.m. with a buffet lunch provided for the 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. seminar.
Virtual Seminars: Register by emailing email@example.com or calling 330-776-4620. Zoom seminars will be presented 10 10 a.m. Nov. 14, 9 a.m. Nov. 21 and 9 a.m. Nov. 29.
Ohio Senior Health Insurance Information Program (OSHIIP)
All events for the Ohio Senior Health Insurance Information Program through the Ohio Department of Insurance can be found at https://insurance.ohio.gov/consumers/medicare/medicare-checkup-events
Phone hotline: The OSHIIP hotline at 800-686-1578 has counselors available for education or one-on-one free consultations. It is staffed from 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.
An in-person event will take place at the Twinsburg Senior Center, 10260 Ravenna Road, Oct. 18 and Oct. 25, by appointment only. One-on-one consultations will be available beginning at 9 a.m. Call 330-963-8722 to schedule.
There are no in-person events scheduled in Medina, Portage, Stark or Wayne counties.
For a full list of events around the state, go to https://insurance.ohio.gov/consumers/medicare/medicare-checkup-events
Virtual online-webinars: You can attend a weekly virtual webinar hosted online by the department. They will be held at 10 a.m. Oct. 17, 2 p.m. Oct. 31 and 10 a.m. Nov. 21. Follow link above to register.
Virtual one-on-one counseling appointment: Follow the link above to register for an individual appointment to discuss your Medicare needs.
There are agents that represent a specific company or brokers who may represent several companies who also can help people shop. They can be helpful, but understand they are receiving a commission and you will only have access to the plans they represent.
The Medicare program also provides free personal help over the phone at 800-633-4227.
If you believe you cannot afford the plans, there may be help available for free drug coverage or reduced monthly premiums and lower out-of-pocket costs.
For information, contact the Social Security Administration at 800-772-1213 or www.ssa.gov.
Beacon Journal staff reporter Betty Lin-Fisher can be reached at 330-996-3724 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her @blinfisherABJ on Twitter or www.facebook.com/BettyLinFisherABJ. To see her most recent stories and columns, go to www.tinyurl.com/bettylinfisher.
This article originally appeared on Akron Beacon Journal: Here's where to find help picking Medicare Advantage, Part D plans