APPRISE counsels seniors on Medicare options
Katie Carpenter | 11.18.13
Medicare is a federal program that provides coverage to those over the age of 65 and for those under 65 who have certain chronic medical conditions.
Medicare consists of 4 parts- there’s coverage for hospital stays, for medical practice, Part C for Medicare advantage and Part D for prescription medications. Learn more: Video: Medicare explained
“It’s close to celebrating it’s 40th anniversary,” says Secretary Brian Duke, PA Department of Aging.
Open enrollment began October 15th and extends through December 7th.
“It’s an opportunity for citizens to look at their healthcare needs and look at their current coverage and perhaps what they’re paying for that coverage and determine if they need to make a change,” Duke says. An example would be if a person has a chronic disease, it may advance as they age and they may have a change in mediation or change in regimen of care. He says:
"Medicare is not a simple coverage system and so seeking help to determine what needs are and to determine what alternatives or options are best for the person is always well advised."
PA has a free insurance counseling program called APPRISE which is designed to assist older Pennsylvanians who are enrolling in a Medicare plan.
Over 600 volunteers across the Commonwealth have trained extensively so that they can understand the complexities of Medicare and answer questions about plans, so that people can make the right choice for their budget and their heath. Take a look:
Counselors provide objective, easy-to-understand information about Medicare, Medicare Supplemental Insurance, Medicaid, and Long-Term Care Insurance.
“We’re grateful to the 600 plus volunteers across the Commonwealth that help us with the APPRISE program. That is our engine- so to speak.”
Duke says that people can contact the Department of Aging to set up an appointment with an APPRISE counselor. But, contacting Area Agencies on Aging are the most local connection for someone.
To make the most of a meeting with a counselor, Duke advises to bring the following to an appointment:
- Your current coverage with Medicare
- Information on health, including a list of medicines you're taking
- List of services you're receiving ongoing basis
He explains, “Counselors are prepared to look at the information someone brings in and compare it to the resources and plans that are available and hopefully make recommendations to the individual who is with us.”
Duke adds, “Empowerment is based often, when we look at aging, on information- and connections people make. No one ages well alone. We encourage citizens, especially beneficiaries of Medicare, to take this time to review coverage, review your own health needs, and seek the free counseling that is available through the APPRISE program.”
The toll-free APPRISE Helpline is 1-800-783-7067, all services are free and confidential.
Seniors on Medicare don't need to apply at the Insurance Marketplace: The Insurance Marketplace, a key part of the Affordable Care Act, is now open. Basically it’s a place to shop for an insurance plan if you don’t have one – or a place to explore your options if you’re already insured. But what if you have Medicare?