Medicare plans to change

Published 8:57 pm Saturday, October 23, 2010

Medicare beneficiaries who receive mail from the program in the next few weeks should take a careful look before tossing it in the trash.

Most beneficiaries are being asked to review their plan and determine if it is still the best one for them, said Jim Hutchinson, community services educator for Senior Services of Southeastern Virginia. Some plans are changing, and others are being eliminated, so all beneficiaries will want to ensure their plan is still the best one. Some may wind up purchasing a supplemental policy from a private insurance company.

“It depends on your needs,” Hutchinson said. “What’s good for you would be terrible for someone else.”

Email newsletter signup

An enrollment and change period lasts from Nov. 15 to Dec. 31. During that period, Medicare beneficiaries should consult with an expert to ensure they’re getting the best plan.

Beneficiaries soon will receive an annual change letter.

“It will tell them that something is changing about their plan,” Hutchinson said. “It will tell them whether the premium has changed or not.”

A number of avenues are available for Medicare beneficiaries to figure out what to do with their plan. For starters, they can call 1-800-MEDICARE or visit

Those who need extra help, or would like to deal with a local person, also have options. Senior Services provides help in determining what the best plan is for each person.

Before calling, beneficiaries should gather their Medicare card, their list of prescription drugs, the frequency and dosages in which they take them, and the pharmacy where they purchase them.

In Western Tidewater, folks can call Brenda Lawrence at 328-4217 to get assistance through the Virginia Insurance Counseling Assistance Program. Those further east can call 222-4512 or 461-9481.

Hutchinson reminded seniors that “there is no one size fits all.”

“We want to get the right plan for the right people,” he said.