Tuesday, October 16, 2012
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Medicare Part D open enrollment period going on now

Department of Insurance offers free counseling on options

Call 800-548-9034 toll-free or visit http://insurance.Illinois.gov/SHIP/ 

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[October 16, 2012]  SPRINGFIELD -- On Monday, Illinois Department of Insurance Director Andrew Boron announced that free counseling assistance is available to help educate Medicare-eligible individuals and their caregivers about available Medicare Part D insurance options. The department's Senior Health Insurance Program, known as SHIP, provides free counseling for Medicare beneficiaries and their caregivers. The Medicare Part D open enrollment season runs from Oct. 15 through Dec. 7.

"Medicare open enrollment is an especially busy time for SHIP counselors who help seniors and people with disabilities who may want to change their Medicare plans. Now is the time to make changes to your Part D plan without incurring a penalty," said Boron.

Medicare coverage and determining which of the different options to select can be difficult. SHIP counselors explain the various drug and supplemental programs that are available to seniors and people with disabilities, to help them make the best decisions. The SHIP toll-free hotline is open weekdays from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. at 800-548-9034.

It's also important for individuals on the state's Circuit Breaker program to select a new drug program during the open enrollment period if they haven't already done so. The state's Illinois Cares Rx prescription drug assistance program is no longer available to help pay for prescription drugs and Medicare Part D premiums.

Illinois Department on Aging Director John K. Holton, Ph.D., says it is important that individuals contact their Part D prescription drug plan to find out their premium and prescription drug costs and make necessary changes to help save on costs.

"Many who have been enrolled in a Part D plan for a number of years automatically renew without doing any research, but a review of their coverage could prove beneficial by saving money on premiums and prescription costs," Holton said.

SHIP is a year-round program, not affiliated with any insurance company, and counselors do not sell or solicit any type of insurance. Counselors educate and answer questions about Medicare, Medicare Supplement, long-term care insurance, Medicare HMOs, private fee-for-service and other health insurance; organize and assist with filing Medicare and Medicare Supplement claims; and analyze Medicare Supplement and long-term care policies.

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For more information, visit http://insurance.Illinois.gov/SHIP/ or call SHIP toll-free at 800-548-9034. A list of SHIP volunteer sites is available at http://insurance.illinois.gov/ship/

The site in Logan County is the Oasis Senior Center, 501 Pulaski, phone 217-732-6132.


The mission of the Illinois Department on Aging is to serve and advocate for older Illinoisans and their caregivers by administering quality and culturally appropriate programs that promote partnerships and encourage independence, dignity and quality of life. For more information, call the Senior HelpLine at 800-252-8966 or TTY 888-206-1327 for the hearing-impaired, or visit www.state.il.us/aging.

The mission of the Illinois Department of Insurance is to protect consumers by providing assistance and information, by efficiently regulating the insurance industry's market behavior and financial solvency, and by fostering a competitive insurance marketplace. The department assists consumers with all insurance complaints, including health, auto, life and homeowner.

[Text from Illinois Department of Insurance and Illinois Department on Aging news release received from the Illinois Office of Communication and Information]

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