Department on Aging offers free counseling for Medicare enrollment

SPRINGFIELD – To assist Medicare-eligible individuals regarding their Medicare insurance options, Illinois Department on Aging is offering free counseling assistance.

Medicare Open Enrollment starts today, Oct. 15, and runs until Dec. 7. The department’s Senior Health Insurance Program, called SHIP, provides free counseling for Medicare beneficiaries and their caregivers.

“Medicare coverage and deciding which of the different options to select can be overwhelming, but a SHIP Counselor can help you choose the best option for you,” said IDoA Director John Holton. “Whether enrolling for the first time or reviewing current coverage, open enrollment is the time to determine how Medicare Part D and Medicare Advantage plan benefits work for you. SHIP counseling offers peace-of-mind, knowing you are getting the most from your health insurance benefits.”

SHIP counselors can explain the drug, health, and supplemental plans that are available to help seniors and people with disabilities make the best choices. To contact SHIP call (800) 252-8966 weekdays from 8:30 a.m. until 5 p.m.

For more information about SHIP including a list of SHIP sites, view the website at http://www.illinois.gov/aging/ship/Pages/default.aspx.

SHIP is a year-round program, not affiliated with any insurance company, and counselors do not sell or solicit any type of insurance.

Holton said it is important to clarify that Medicare Open Enrollment is not the same as the open enrollment for uninsured people to sign up for coverage on the Illinois marketplace called Get Covered Illinois, which starts Nov. 15.

If you have health coverage through Medicare, the marketplace will not have any effect on your Medicare coverage. To compare 2015 drug and health plans and find out more about Medicare, including preventive services now covered, log on the federal website at www.medicare.gov.

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