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Jul
14
2024
Seniors

For those in Yellow Springs and Miami Township who are weighing a change in Medicare plans, a phone call or visit to the Yellow Springs Senior Center, 227 Xenia Ave., could be a gift to themselves. (Photo by Reilly Dixon)

Senior Center offers Medicare open enrollment consultations

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By Dennis Bova

This is more than the holiday season — it’s the season for Medicare open enrollment. And while that doesn’t have the same allure as Thanksgiving or Christmas, it carries a healthy significance for people aged 65 and older.

For those in Yellow Springs and Miami Township who are weighing a change in Medicare plans, a phone call or visit to the Yellow Springs Senior Center, 227 Xenia Ave., could be a gift to themselves.

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“We offer free consultation for Medicare open enrollment,” said the center’s executive director, Caroline Mullin.

During the open enrollment period, which began Oct. 15 and ends Dec. 7, Mullin said people are encouraged to review their current plan and learn of available options.

The only plans the center can review are medicine plans and Advantage plans, according to the center’s website. These plans change annually; premiums and co-pays may rise, covered medications may change tiers or not be covered.

“Your doctor may no longer be contracted with your plan. This is why a review is very important,” the center’s website reads.

Mullin said Stephanie Lawson, the center’s support services manager, handles Medicare open enrollment questions because of her training through the Ohio Senior Health Insurance Information Program. So far, Lawson said she’s been “consistently busy.”

Lawson said she’s helped about 50 people as of mid-November with their open enrollment questions and changes, finding the best, most economical plans. She said that’s about the same rate of helping people as this time last year; last open enrollment season she helped 65 people with plan changes, saving them a total of about $25,000.

Lawson said so far this season the savings to individuals she’s helped range from $63 to $1,900 from their current Medicare drug plan to a new one.

“There can be that much difference between Medicare drug plans,” she said.

Lawson added that those who are on Medicare but who aren’t taking medication still need a drug plan.

Mullin started at the center in 2007 in the same position as Lawson is now, so she knows this part of assisting their clientele.

“It’s gratifying to help during the Medicare window,” Mullin said.

She said seniors can be confused by the bombardment of drug-plan ads from insurance companies and other private companies approved by Medicare, which administer the plans.

“We show everyone the full canvas of their options,” Mullin said. “We make a difference. We save people a lot of money, and we’re not biased in the information or guidance we share.”

Lawson said she sometimes is frustrated by the drug and insurance companies,  but “if I can help people navigate through some of that confusion, that makes me feel good. I just really like to help people. I love my job!”

Individual interviews are available by phone or in person by appointment only by visiting the “Medicare Information” section of the Senior Center’s website: ysseniors.org/medicare.html; or calling the Senior Center at its central number, 937-767-5751 and asking for Lawson.

The deadline to make changes is Dec. 7.

*Dennis Bova is a freelance reporter for the News and was a longtime copy editor for The Toledo Blade. He currently writes for Wright State University, the Dayton Business Journal, Dayton Real Producers and Toledo-based Healthy Living News.

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