• Last modified 635 days ago (Oct. 19, 2017)


Medicare open enrollment underway

Staff writer

Medicare open enrollment runs Oct. 15 to Dec. 7, and help is available for county residents needing to enroll in Medicare, Medicare Advantage, or Medicare Part D plans for the first time or find out if their current plan is still best for them.

Hillsboro Hometown Pharmacy, Lanning Pharmacy in Marion, and CK Pharmacy in Peabody all offer help comparing Medicare Part D plans.

Myrna Hamm of Hillsboro Hometown Pharmacy said customers can walk in to get enrollment help without an appointment, but if customers come before 11:30 a.m. or after 1:30 p.m., it’s easier for pharmacy staff to assist them.

What’s needed is a list of prescriptions the person uses. The person’s prescriptions are entered in a search database that provides a list of drug plans that cover those prescriptions and the price of those plans.

Lanning Pharmacy also provides the service. If the enrollee is a pharmacy customer who gets all prescriptions filled there, pharmacist Tracy Lanning said the store can use the prescription list already on file and prepare the report in advance of the person coming in so she can review the information with them.

Steve Kuder, owner of CK Pharmacy in Peabody, said appointments for Medicare Part D plan reviews are preferred. That way staff can do the comparison and provide results the next day.

The county Department on Aging offers help enrolling in, or switching, plans. Coordinator Gayla Ratzlaff said an appointment is necessary because she goes to multiple communities. People need to call the office at (620) 382-3580 and bring their list of medications, dosage and times taken to the appointment along with their Medicare card.

Kansas Department on Aging and Disability also provides assistance under its Senior Health Insurance Counseling for Kansas program.

SHICK counselors are trained volunteers not affiliated with any insurance or financial planning company. They don’t endorse particular plans but provide information.

To find a SHICK counselor, call (800) 860-5260.

According to KDADS, people who are happy with their Part D coverage don’t need to do anything if their current plan will still be available. They will simply continue in that plan unless the insurance company sends a letter notifying them their plan has been discontinued.

Enrollment in, change to, or change away from a Medicare Advantage plan can also be done during open enrollment.

Medicare Advantage plans are offered by private insurance companies contracted with Medicare to provide both Part A and Part B benefits. Most Medicare Advantage plans include prescription drug coverage.

Plans include health maintenance organizations, preferred provider networks, fee-for-service plans, special needs plans, and Medicare medical savings account plans.

“If you’re already enrolled, this is an opportunity to review your coverage and make adjustments if necessary so it better meets your needs,” KDADS Secretary Tim Keck said.

Last modified Oct. 19, 2017