October 13, 2022
Medicare recipients eligible for free benefits counseling from Houston Health Department's Area Agency on Aging
The Harris County Area Agency on Aging (AAA), a division of the Houston Health Department, will offer free help for beneficiaries signing up for Medicare options during open enrollment beginning October 15.
Beneficiaries can compare all their Medicare options and make changes to their health or prescription drug coverage for 2023.
“Lower premiums and copays are welcoming news to seniors this year as inflation costs keep rising leaving many seniors on fixed incomes cutting back on necessary items,” said Rose Ortega, a benefits counselor with the agency. “Seniors will see a slight decrease in their Medicare costs that they can apply elsewhere in their monthly budget.”
Face-to-face meetings are offered to clients unable to meet in person. Clients can still receive guidance by scheduling virtual appointments via Zoom, Microsoft Teams, and by telephone.
Clients need the following items on-hand during appointments:
- Medicare card (if changing current benefits)
- A list of current medications
- Award letter from Social Security or proof of income
- Proof of current health insurance
Open enrollment for most beneficiaries may be the only time they can make changes to their Medicare coverage. They can:
- Change their Medicare health or prescription drug coverage for 2023;
- Change from Original Medicare to a Medicare Advantage plan.
- Change from Medicare Advantage plan back to Original Medicare.
- Decide which plan will meet their needs for 2023;
- Check for changes in their plan such as costs;
- Check drug coverage; and
- Check if they will be able to see their preferred doctor or pharmacy.
Beneficiaries have options to save on costs with the Medicare Savings Programs (MSP) and Extra Help or Part D Low-Income Subsidy (LIS) programs. The programs assist with premiums, deductibles, coinsurance, and copays. The LIS program helps reduce the cost of medications.
Benefits counselors do not recommend or endorse any specific insurance product, insurance company or plan. They provide information and advice so beneficiaries can make their own decisions.
People can enroll in Medicare if they are 65 or older, under 65 and have a disability or have either end-stage renal disease or ALS, also called Lou Gehrig’s disease. This year, end-stage renal disease patients can enroll in a Medicare Advantage Plan.
Medicare beneficiaries or their legal representatives can obtain benefits counseling or more information by calling the AAA’s call center at 832-393-4301 or 800-213-8471, appointments are encouraged and available.
Enrollment ends December 7, 2022, and new coverage begins January 1, 2023.
For more information, Medicare plans can be previewed at Medicare.gov.