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Tips for Picking Medicare Plan This Open-Enrollment Season

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Tuesday, November 23, 2021   

HARRISBURG, Pa. -- Choosing the right Medicare plan can be confusing, and during the open-enrollment period, it is recommended Pennsylvanians take the time they need to find the plan best for them.

Now through Dec. 7, Pennsylvanians over 65 and people with some disabilities can sign up or make any changes to their Medicare plan at Medicare.gov.

Bill Johnston-Walsh, state director of AARP Pennsylvania, said when deciding between different Medicare plans, it is important to consider how much coverage you are looking for, the costs, and how convenient it is for your personal life.

Johnston-Walsh emphasized plans allowing you to stick with your trusted doctor or pharmacy are key.

"A lot of people like that flexibility and the convenience of saying, 'Hey, this is my doctor. I've had this doctor for years and I don't want to change,' or, 'I've been going to this pharmacy. This guy's been wonderful, knows my prescriptions, knows what the interactions are, knows to have a good conversation with me,'" Johnston-Walsh outlined.

Nearly 2.8 million Pennsylvanians are enrolled in Medicare, according to 2020 data.

For 2022 plans, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services plans to extend telehealth coverage, which became more popular during the pandemic for behavioral health visits. Benefits take effect Jan. 1.

When picking between original Medicare and Medicare Advantage, along with adding a Part D prescription drug plan, it can be daunting for anyone unfamiliar with the program.

Johnston-Walsh pointed out consumers should not be afraid to ask for help unpacking the information with someone in their community.

"You may need a loved one or a family friend or someone from your church to help you go through the process," Johnston-Walsh advised. "It can get complicated. You may need another set of eyes to be able to look at it with you, another trusted set of eyes that will be looking out for your best interest."

Johnston-Walsh also suggested Medicare recipients connect with their local Area Agency on Aging for support. The 52 agencies throughout the state offer free insurance counseling and can help with plan comparisons, enrolling in a plan, and determining eligibility.

Disclosure: AARP Pennsylvania contributes to our fund for reporting on Budget Policy & Priorities, Consumer Issues, Livable Wages/Working Families, and Senior Issues. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.


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