Sep. 20—Medicare open enrollment season starts Oct. 15 and now is the time for those eligible to start researching.
More than 2.3 million Ohioans are eligible for the insurance program, which covers those 65 and older and people with certain disabilities or permanent kidney failure.
A person's Medicare plan can determine which doctors and hospitals they are in network at, what drugs they can have coverage, and what extra benefits they're entitled for.
And each year, insurance plans can change what they cover and each year people's medical needs might change.
The right plan for 2021 might not be the right plan for 2022.
"Personally, I don't change the car insurance my homeowners insurance, or any of my other plans. But the Medicare health insurance plans are different," said Chris Reeg, director of the Ohio Senior Health Insurance Information Program Director Agents.
Yet, insurance information can be too complicated for most people to understand and compare. Most people keep their plan each year, even though they are urged to shop around.
"If you're a Medicare patient that hasn't reviewed your plans in years, it's quite possible there's a more cost effective plan out there that will cover your needs," Reeg said.
People who need help digging through their information can get assistance for free through the Ohio Senior Health Insurance Information Program, a division of the Department of Insurance. The program is conducting virtual and in-person Medicare Check-up Day events through open enrollment.
Marisa O'Neill, CEO of RetireMEDiQ, which brokers health coverage for retired people, advised people contemplating a change to start scheduling an appointment with an insurance agent for early October, who can help people understand options.
She said a lot of Medicare Advantage plans have been adding benefits that people might not think of, from grocery cards to paying for a shower grab bar.
"If someone has a specific need, it's worthy checking out their plan to make sure it offers some help with that. And if it doesn't, switch to another plan that does," O'Neill said.
Ohio Senior Health Insurance Information Program can help at in person events, over the phone and through webinars, with more information at 1-800-686-1578 or www.insurance.ohio.gov.
"Medicare experts are ready to help Ohioans understand Medicare and determine the best coverage options for their healthcare needs and budget," Gov. Mike DeWine stated.
People already enrolled should soon receive information in the mail explaining any changes to benefits for 2022.
Then Oct. 1, insurance plans will release information on what they are offering for next year so people can compare options.
In-person Medicare enrollment help
These dates and locations could change and more dates and locations may be added later. Information can be confirmed at 1-800-686-1578 or www.insurance.ohio.gov.
Clark County: From 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Nov. 9. In person counseling by appointment only at United Senior Services. Call 937-323-4948 to schedule.
Darke County: 2 p.m. Oct. 20. A presentation of information is at Brethren Retirement Community.
10 a.m. to 2 p.m., Nov. 4. In-person counseling by appointment only at Brethren Retirement Community. Call 937-547-7628 to schedule.
Montgomery County: 1 p.m. Oct. 13. Presentation of information at Huber Heights Senior Center.
9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Oct. 22. In-person counseling by appointment only at the Jewish Family Services, Boonshoft Center. Call 937-610-1555 to schedule.
9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Oct. 26. In-person counseling by appointment only at Huber Heights Senior Center. Call 937-233-9999 to schedule.
9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Nov. 5. In-person counseling by appointment only at the Earl Heck Community Center. Call 937-836-5929 to schedule.
Ohio Senior Health Insurance Information Program
The state offers free Medicare enrollment help.
Register for virtual or in-person Medicare Check-up Days at www.insurance.ohio.gov.
Ohio Department of Insurance staff are also available over the phone 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday at 1-800-686-1578 and OSHIIPmail@insurance.ohio.gov to answer Medicare questions.