Ocean County Offering One-On-One Help With Medicare Part D Choices

Sep 27, 2017

The open enrollment period for 2018 Medicare coverage is Oct. 15 through Dec. 7, right around the corner. That’s why the Ocean County Office of Senior Services is again offering one-on-one assistance in comparing Medicare prescription drug plans for 2018 on the Medicare Plan Finder.

Medicare Part D, which is responsible for prescription drug coverage, can be confusing to say the least. Let’s look at how the official Medicare website, medicare.gov, introduces the subject in an entry titled “How to get drug coverage.”

“Medicare offers prescription drug coverage to everyone with Medicare. If you decide not to get Medicare drug coverage when you’re first eligible, you’ll likely pay a late enrollment penalty unless one of these applies:

  • You have other creditable prescription drug coverage.
  • You get extra help.

“To get Medicare drug coverage, you must join a plan run by an insurance company or other private company approved by Medicare. Each plan can vary in cost and drugs covered.

“2 ways to get drug coverage:

“1. Medicare Prescription Drug Plan (Part D). These plans (sometimes called “PDPs”) add drug coverage to Original Medicare, some Medicare Cost Plans, some Medicare Private Fee-for-Service (PFFS) Plans, and Medicare Medical Savings Account (MSA) Plans.

“2. Medicare Advantage Plan (Part C) (like an HMO or PPO) or other Medicare health plan that offers Medicare prescription drug coverage. You get all of your Medicare Part A (Hospital Insurance) and Medicare Part B (Medical Insurance) coverage, and prescription drug coverage (Part D) through these plans. Medicare Advantage Plans with prescription drug coverage are sometimes called ‘MA-PDs.’ You must have Part A and Part B to join a Medicare Advantage Plan.”

And we haven’t even begun to talk about deductibles and “doughnut holes.”

It’s easy to see how free one-on-one assistance could be valuable.

“We are continuing our outreach in order to educate Ocean County’s Medicare enrollees regarding the Medicare Prescription Drug Benefit Part D,” said Ocean County Freeholder Director Joseph H. Vicari, chairman of senior services. “The program is complex and changes each year so we want to make certain that all Medicare enrollees are able to navigate it and make the choice that is best for them.

The Office of Senior Services is offering the one-on-one assistance over the course of 11 days called Medicare Part D Days.

Unfortunately for Southern Ocean County residents, only one will be held in the area. It will be at the Little Egg Harbor Township Senior Center located at 641 Radio Rd., Little Egg Harbor Township, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Thursday, Nov. 2. Pre-registration is required – call Linda at 609-296-7241, extension 235, to reserve a time slot.

If you’re willing to travel up the Parkway, be aware that eight Medicare Part D Days are set for the County Connection at the Ocean County Mall. Those days are Oct. 17 and 25, Nov. 1, 14, 28 and 30, and Dec. 5 and 7. Appointments are available from 9:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. each day. Register by calling Donna at 732-288-7777. —R.M.

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