How to Keep Medicare Coverage, Avoid Scammers During Open Enrollment
Thursday, October 7, 2021
LINCOLN, Neb. -- With open enrollment for Medicare set to kick off next week, Nebraskans age 65 and older can expect to see a deluge of ads for so-called Advantage plans, where private insurance companies offer Medicare coverage with additional benefits which can include vision and dental coverage.
Alicia Jones, director of the state health insurance assistance program (SHIP), for the Nebraska Department of Insurance, said it is important not to let the bells and whistles distract from selecting a plan that meets your basic health needs first.
"Those extra benefits are great, but the primary function is the health insurance," Jones asserted. "So make sure the health side fits what you need, your doctors take it, the costs look like they'll work, and then you can move on to those extra benefits."
Through Dec. 7, Nebraskans also will be able to select Medicare Plan D prescription drug coverage, a hot topic these days in the nation's capital as Big Pharma works to block efforts to allow Medicare to negotiate directly with drugmakers to lower costs.
Starting this year, plans participating in Medicare's Senior Savings Model must now offer insulin for no more than $35 per month, which could save some Nebraskans several hundred dollars a year.
Jones pointed out it is important to check your coverage every year. She noted some current plans will not be available next year, and a number of plans are increasing monthly premiums by 30% to 40%.
Jones emphasized it is also important to keep an eye out for scammers posing as company or government officials. Her advice: Do not answer a phone call if you don't know the caller, and never respond to messages sent via Facebook or e-mail.
"If you are interested in what they're saying, look up the number of that company, and give that company a call," Jones urged. "That way, you can know you're actually talking to the company, you can get real information, and you can make sure that you're not going to become a victim of a scam."
For help choosing the right plan, call Jones and her team toll-free at 1-800-234-7119 to set up a free one-on-one appointment. Jones also will be leading an electronic town hall Wednesday, Oct. 13, at 10:00 a.m. To call or listen in, visit vekeo.com/AARPNebraska.
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