As Medicare open enrollment starts, 5 County Area Agency on Aging offers free assistance

Photo by BananaStock/BananaStock/Getty Images Plus, St. George News

ST. GEORGE — Each year, seniors can change their Medicare prescription drug plans and Medicare Advantage Plans during the annual open enrollment period, held between Oct. 15 and Dec. 7.

During this time, Medicare beneficiaries may notice an increase in Medicare-related advertisements, and it may be difficult to know where to turn for unbiased, objective assistance. The Area Agency on Aging – Five County is here to help with walk-in events in St. George and Cedar City on Oct. 22, as well as one-on-one plan reviews.

Staff and volunteers with the State Health Insurance Assistance Program can help local Medicare beneficiaries navigate the options available in the area. Medicare counselors with the SHIP program can provide benefits explanations and plan comparisons for all the Medicare Part D and Medicare Advantage Plans available in Iron and Washington counties.

There are several new plans available in Southern Utah this year, and every Medicare beneficiary with a Medicare Advantage Plan or Medicare prescription drug plan could benefit from a plan review. This plan review takes only a few minutes to complete and could result in hundreds of dollars in savings.

Prescription drug plans and Medicare Advantage Plans can change their premium amounts, copays, deductibles, formularies and In-Network from year to year, so even the plan that was best last year may not still be the best option. And because everyone’s situation is unique, the “best” plan for one person may not be the same for their friend, neighbor or even spouse.

There are two ways to take advantage of the SHIP program. First, a walk-in event will be held Oct. 22 from 1-3 p.m. at both the Area Agency on Aging – Five County locations. Offices are located at 1070 W 1600 S Bldg. B in St. George and 585 N Main St. Ste. 1 in Cedar City.

The second way to take advantage of the SHIP program is to call and set an appointment for your one-on-one plan review. To schedule an appointment in St. George, contact Tom Everett at 435-673-3548. For an appointment in Cedar City, contact Amy Brinkerhoff at 435-867-6020.

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