Medicare open-enrollment period begins

ATLANTA Americans have about six weeks to select new Medicare plans or choose to stay with current coverage. During this year's Medicare open enrollment period, which ends Dec. 7, the Georgia Department of Human Services, Division of Aging Services and the state's Area Agencies on Aging will offer free one-on-one assistance and community presentations to help Georgians make decisions about Medicare health and prescription drug plans.

The GeorgiaCares State Health Insurance Assistance Program offers personalized assistance through a toll-free help line at 866-55-AGING (1-866-552-4464). Consumers may also compare plans at www.Medicare.gov or call 800-Medicare (1-800-633-4227).

"Choosing the right Medicare options for your unique healthcare needs, preferences, and finances takes time and research," said Dr. James J. Bulot, director of DHS Division of Aging Services. "Fortunately, the GeorgiaCares program offers help from unbiased trained specialists."

People with Medicare can create personalized coverage solutions from options such as Original Medicare, "Part D" prescription drug-help plans, and comprehensive "Part C" Medicare Advantage plans. Plan details may change, so beneficiaries should carefully review their current coverage annually.

GeorgiaCares counselors also assist with filling out applications for "Extra Help," which covers costs associated with Medicare premiums, deductibles, and co-payments for financially eligible individuals. Online applications are available at www.socialsecurity.gov/prescriptionhelp or through the Social Security hotline at 1-800-772-1213 (TTY: 1-800-325-0778).

For more information about GeorgiaCares and other services available to older Georgians and their families, visit the DHS Division of Aging Services at http://www.aging.dhr.georgia.gov or call (866) 55-AGING (552-4464).