Medicare: Guide to choosing the right plan

Published 12:19 pm Friday, October 20, 2023

Medicare open enrollment is a crucial period for senior citizens in Alabama, providing an opportunity to review and adjust their healthcare coverage for the upcoming year. The enrollment window opened Oct. 15 and will remain open until December 7th, and the choices you make during this time can significantly impact your healthcare options for the entire year starting in January 2024.

The Alabama Department of Senior Services (ADSS) and the Alabama State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP) have joined forces to help individuals navigate the complex process of enrollment. According to a recent press release, ADSS Commissioner Jean Brown emphasized the importance of understanding Medicare plans sometimes change from year to year. 

“Medicare plans can change every year, and your current one might be changing.” Brown said, “By comparing all your options, you could find a plan that offers you better coverage, saves money or both”.

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During the annual enrollment period, seniors have several options at their disposal, such as canceling their current plan, switching from one plan to another, adding or dropping the Part D plan, or making changes to yprescription plans. These choices are crucial to having the right coverage that meets evolving healthcare needs.

The variety of coverage options and plans available can be overwhelming for many individuals. In 2022, Alabama had more than a million Medicare beneficiaries, many of whom required assistance and counseling regarding their plans. 

April Greene, a senior benefits coordinator, has stepped in to help many seniors. She has collaborated with local pharmacies like Dallas Avenue Pharmacy to assist participants in finding the best policy for their unique needs. 

“Most people just know that at 65 they’re supposed to do something, but they’re not sure what,” Greene says. 

She takes a personalized approach, discussing an individual’s overall health, prescription and dental needs to determine the plan that suits them best. 

“Your average person that’s 65, [Medicare is] their insurance; they’re older, possibly already retired, so they need insurance,” she explained. “And, the policy that works for me may not work for you.” 

Greene also pointed out that there are special services available for low-income participants that they might not be aware of.

Richard Lender, owner of Senior Healthcare Brokers, has also joined the cause. He has partnered with medical offices such as the Alabama Rural Healthcare Association to offer his assistance. 

Lender explained, “In the medical arena, there are seven levels of Medicare…and the average consumer can get overwhelmed.” 

He also said that there are a multitude of choices that need to be tailored to individual needs. Special services, such as food cards that can be used for groceries, over-the-counter medications, and even utilities, are available to make life easier for Medicare recipients.

 Persons are over 65 and enrolled in Medicare, don’t have to navigate this complex landscape alone. The Alabama SHIP counselors and ADSS are ready to help you find the best plan for your unique circumstances. Connect with a local SHIP counselor at 1-800-243-5463 or visit the ADSS website at www.AlabamaAgeLine.gov/helpservices/ for further assistance. 

To reach a representative at Senior Healthcare Brokers, call 251-444-0065.