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Seniors Take Note: Open Enrollment for Medicare Plans Begins Today

VICAP Logo - Virginia Insurance Counseling and Assistance Program
VICAP Logo - Virginia Insurance Counseling and Assistance Program
October 15, 2012

RICHMOND, Va. - Virginia's seniors have a lot of information to wade through, but a lot of assistance is available as well, for people seeking help with their Medicare health and prescription drug plans during the open enrollment period, which begins today. Liz Havenner, the VICAP director for the Virginia Division for the Aging, says there are several medical plans to choose from, and some are bundled with prescription drug plans. She says it's important to re-evaluate your plan every year; for instance, a Medicare Advantage Plan might not be renewed in your area.

"If an individual's health changes and their medication changes, that would be another reason that someone should re-evaluate their plan and look to see if a different plan would offer a more affordable option for them."

Havenner says VICAP counselors are available by phone. The number is 1-800-552-3402. They can also tell you about local events in your area where you can receive information. You can get help online at www.medicare.gov. You'll need to have your Medicare card handy and know what prescriptions you take. Open enrollment lasts through Dec. 7.

Havenner warns people to beware of Medicare fraud, a lot of which comes by phone from parties claiming to be from Medicare or an insurance company and asking for personal information, such as your Social Security or checking account numbers.

"Those are serious issues. That's phishing information, and none of the beneficiaries should give that information out. Medicare will never call and ask you for your Social Security number. Insurance companies will never call and ask for a checking account number."

She says another recent tactic regarding Medicare is a political one that comes by letter claiming that "Obamacare" is taking money away from your insurance and directs you to a website that tells you not to vote for President Obama - or, in some cases, Mitt Romney. If you suspect fraud, call the statewide Senior Medicare Patrol at 1-800-938-8885 so it can be investigated.



Monique Coppola, Public News Service - VA