Healthwatch 16: Choosing the Right Plan

LUZERNE COUNTY, Pa. -- Now through early December, those who receive Medicare can sign up for supplemental health benefits not covered by traditional Medicare.

Experts know the whole process can be confusing, and they want you to know they're ready to help.

Medicare is a federal program that's been around for decades. It offers health insurance for those 65 and older, or for those who have certain disabilities. Many people opt for supplemental benefits, as well.

Geisinger Health Plan offers Geisinger Gold Medicare Advantage plan. They have licensed Medicare advisors to offer tips and guide people through the enrollment process.

"For Medicare Advantage plans and prescription drug plans, those are subject to an annual enrollment period, which runs from October 15 through December 7. During that time, they can make changes to the plan or enroll in a new one, and they take effect in January for the following year," said Crystal Kominski, the manager of Medicare sales for the Geisinger Health Plan.

Kominski emphasizes that now is the time to look at your plan if you want to make changes. You only have until December 7.

"It's oftentimes what is seemingly a complicated process, but a Medicare advisor can help them weed out their options and see what's best for them," Kominski said.

Start by asking yourself simple questions. Has your health changed? Would you like to see a certain specialist? Do you now need a medication you didn't need before?

Kominski suggests you talk it over with a licensed Medicare advisor. Geisinger will send someone to your home or other location or talk to you over the phone.

You can also visit any 65 Forward location, like the one in Kingston, where a Medicare specialist will be on hand to talk about Advantage plans.

"These plans include everything that Medicare covers and additional benefits like dental, vision, hearing, prescription drug, and fitness memberships. They can get a lot of services for sometimes no premium at all per month."

We're talking here about the Geisinger Health Plan, not the hospital system, so Geisinger facilities are not the only facilities available to beneficiaries in these plans. Geisinger Gold is one plan; there are other options out there.

You can get information from Medicare at medicare.gov or 1-800-MEDICARE.

Find out about Geisinger's plans at geisingergold.com or 1-800-8239633.

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