Seniors search for new Medicare options

    Help lines across the Philadelphia region have been slammed with calls from concerned senior citizens who need to change their Medicare health insurance options.

    Help lines across the Philadelphia region have been slammed with calls from concerned senior citizens who need to change their Medicare health insurance options.
    (Photo: http://www.flickr.com/photos/seychelles88/ / CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

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    [audio:091015teseniors.mp3]

    Many seniors sign up for a Medicare Advantage plan to get add-on options, like prescription drug and vision care that are not covered in the basic Medicare program. But next year, the region’s largest insurer Independence Blue Cross is cutting back on the number of Advantage plans it offers.

    Kellie Flanagan manages the call-in line at the Center for Advocacy for the Rights and Interests of the Elderly. She says seniors should make sure their doctor accepts a new plan before signing up.

    Flanagan: From that point they can make a decision, you know if their doctor doesn’t accept one but accepts the other, they might just go with the second choice. But if their doctor accepts neither, then the alternative for them is to just go into straight Medicare, straight Medicaid.

    More than 35,000 people across the region may need to find another Medicare Advantage plan. There are three Philadelphia-area counseling programs helping seniors sort through their options.

    Flanagan: All three agencies are definitely feeling the avalanche of the calls because people are really panicking about this because they want to make sure they make the choice that’s most beneficial for them.

    The deadline to sign up for a new Medicare Advantage plan is December 31st.

    APPRISE is the State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP) for Pennsylvanians age 60 and over. The Pennsylvania Department of Aging created APPRISE to help older Pennsylvanians understand their health insurance options under Medicare and make sound decisions about what is best for them.? These APPRISE agencies are helping seniors in the Philadelphia region

    More info:
    The Mayor’s Commission on Services to the Aging?: 215-686-8462
    Albert Einstein Medical Center’s Premier Years Program: 215-456-7600

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