The S.H.I.P. (Senior Health Insurance Program) counselors at Senior Services Plus have been very busy this annual enrollment period. They have been meeting with Medicare beneficiaries and their family members regarding prescription drug insurance coverage options.
For those of you who are not familiar with Medicare or with S.H.I.P., Medicare’s annual enrollment period lasts from October 15th through December 7th and it is the only time of year when Medicare beneficiaries can make changes to their coverage. S.H.I.P. is a free Medicare counseling services provided by the Illinois Department on Aging. During the annual enrollment period, our S.H.I.P. Counselors at Senior Services Plus meet with Medicare beneficiaries to review their coverage and determine which drug plan or health plan would be the best plan for them in 2015.
During this period, we meet many beneficiaries who have never made changes to their coverage. Some beneficiaries enrolled in a Part D plan many years ago and stayed with that same plan for years. Medicare prescription drug plan and health plan coverage’s can change from year to year. Plan premiums may increase, deductibles added, and perhaps certain prescriptions drugs may be removed from the plan formulary. Perhaps you were able to get $0 co-pays for tier one generics with your current plan, but next year the cost is going up to $3.00 for the same medications.
This is a good example of why it is important to review your coverage every year. Our S.H.I.P. counselors met with and enrolled approximately 100 Medicare beneficiaries into different plans for 2015 during this year’s annual enrollment period.
As a result of helping Medicare consumers change their plans, we expect to save these beneficiaries a total of $62, 802 dollars over the entire course of 2015.
We reached this total by using the plan finder tool on Medicare’s website and comparing the estimated cost of what the beneficiaries would pay for their drug coverage in 2015 with the plan they are currently enrolled in, to the estimated annual cost of their drug coverage in 2015 with a more cost saving plan.
For more information or to volunteer, please contact the front desk receptionist at Senior Services Plus at 618-465-3298 extension 100. Senior Services Plus is located at 2603 North Rodgers Avenue in Alton. Additional information on the agency can be found at www.seniorservicesplus.org.
United Way Success Story for 2015
Senior Services Plus’ Information & Assistance Department
Submitted by: Michelle Rowe, Information & Assistance Coordinator, 618-465-3298 ext. 110
The Information and Assistance Department at Senior Services Plus recently assisted a female consumer with applying for various assistance programs. Earlier this year, the 65-year-old woman retired from the school district. As a single, new retiree, she was having a difficult time adjusting to her change in income, a monthly figure of roughly $1,185. She contacted Senior Services Plus’ Information and Assistance because she was unable to pay for her insulin and had been without the medication for two days. The cost of the insulin was roughly $100. Upon working with the consumer, I&A staff were able to utilize funds to help pay for her insulin. After reviewing her income and assets, I&A was able to locate various programs the consumer qualified for such as the Medicare Savings Program. This government program will save her $104 a month on the Medicare Part B premium and will also automatically qualify her for another program called Extra Help, which will make her co-pays on medications at the pharmacy more affordable. I&A staff were also able to assist the consumer in filling out applications for energy assistance, food stamps, and a government cell phone. The Transportation and Nutrition Program at SSP also signed her up to receive the commodities box. This consumer is in the process of becoming a Foster Grandparent with Senior Services Plus, a program that will allow her to continuing enriching the lives of students. Prior to coming to Senior Services Plus, she was completely unaware of what benefits and programs she was eligible for. She is incredibly grateful for the services and programs Senior Services Plus was able to connect her with as it has drastically improved her quality of life.
Projected in 2015, the Information and Assistance Department also helped Medicare beneficiaries save a combined total of $62,809 on prescription medications by helping consumers find more cost effective drug plans.
“This scheme targets unsuspecting persons and uses scare tactics to defraud them of their resources,” Acting Inspector General Stone said. “Citizens should be very careful and avoid responding to suspicious calls. If an unknown person pressures you on the phone into providing payments or making purchases for odd reasons, don’t think twice about hanging up.”
If a person receives a similar suspicious call from someone alleging to be from the OIG, citizens may report that information to the OIG at 1-800-269-0271 or online via https://oig.ssa.gov/report.
If a person has questions about any communication—phone call, email, letter, or text—that claims to be from SSA or the OIG, please contact your local Social Security office, or call Social Security’s toll-free customer service number at 1-800-772-1213, 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., Monday through Friday, to verify its legitimacy. (Those who are deaf or hard-of-hearing can call Social Security’s TTY number at 1-800-325-0778.)
For more information, contact Andrew Cannarsa, OIG’s Communications Director, at (410) 965-2671.