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New Rochelle Seniors Receive Medicare Counseling

Finding more affordable health insurance and drug plans can require special help.

With a deadline approaching, New Rochelle seniors sought help deciding whether to modifiy their Medicare coverage.

Every Thursday since October, Tim Olberg, a volunteer with the Medicare rights group Seniors Out Speaking on Medicare—or SOS Medicare—met with senior citizens to try to help them find a better and more affordable Medicare plan.

Sessions were held at the in New Rochelle.

“As the Dec. 7 deadline for open enrollment under Medicare part D draws near, there is added pressure for folks to change their plans.” Olberg said.

If plans are not changed by that date, he said, then senior citizens would be automatically re-enrolled in their current plans, for better or for worse.

In these counseling sessions, senior citizens go over their current plans and medications with Olberg. Then with his help they try to find a plan that better fits their situation.

The goal of these sessions, he said, was to find the best plan possible in terms of total cost to the patient, not just the co-pay. Another concern is which pharmacy best fits the needs of the patient, in both medications provided and compatibility with their insurance.

So far this program has been a success, Olberg said.

“This year I will help 25 patients with their Medicare questions, and with a little bit of research roughly 75 percent of patients are able to find a better plan,” he said.

One such patient is Jean Hughes of New Rochelle.

After re-enrolling in Medicare this summer, following a move to Scotland, Hughes was hit with heavy penalties upon her unplanned return to the United States.

She said she hoped that through these sessions she can find a lower monthly rate for her coverage and potentially save hundreds of dollars a year.

Sessions for 2012 begin Oct. 15.

For more information and to schedule an appointment, please visit the Westchester County Department of Senior Programs and Services.

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