Last chance to change your Medicare Advantage Plan

Free presentations coming to Clewiston and Moore Haven
Federal deadline to change Medicare Advantage plans is March 31

MOORE HAVEN — Is your Medicare Advantage plan meeting your needs? If not, it isn’t too late to change your plan, or even go back to Original Medicare, in 2019. Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment is underway through the end of March. Beneficiaries are invited to attend two free presentations about Medicare Advantage and more before the March 31 deadline.

Professionally trained counselors of the SHINE (Serving Health Insurance Needs of Elders) program will offer free and unbiased information without a sales pitch on Wednesday, March 20, at the Florida B. Thomas Library (Harlem Public Library), located at 1010 Harlem Academy Ave. in Clewiston. The presentation will begin at 11 a.m.

The following week, the same presentation will be offered in Moore Haven, on Tuesday, March 26 at 1 p.m. until 2:30 p.m. at the Glades County Public Library, 201 Riverside Dr. S.W. After each presentation, SHINE counselors will be available to answer questions and assist beneficiaries.

“The Medicare Advantage open enrollment period is new in 2019. It gives beneficiaries with buyer’s remorse an opportunity to switch plans,” explains Camilita Aldridge, SHINE Manager at the Area Agency on Aging (AAASWFL). “Depending on your doctor, your medical conditions, your prescriptions, where you live, and your budget, there might be a better plan for you.”

The Florida Department of Elder Affairs’ SHINE program provides free, unbiased information and assistance for Florida Medicare beneficiaries year-round as they carefully evaluate their health care options. SHINE is administered locally by the Area Agency on Aging for Southwest Florida (AAASWFL). SHINE counselors are not affiliated with insurance companies or brokers.

“Our counselors can help you evaluate all of the plans available to you, but you still make the ultimate decision,” explains Aldridge. “Our service is completely free and you won’t get a sales pitch from us.”

Medicare Advantage plans, sometimes called Part C plans, are typically HMOs or PPOs offered by private insurance companies. They cover all of the services offered by Original Medicare but typically work with a network of local health care providers. Beneficiaries who are currently enrolled in Part C plans may switch plans once during the Medicare Advantage open enrollment period.

SHINE empowers seniors, their caregivers, and family members to make informed decisions about health care coverage. SHINE counselors can also help beneficiaries understand benefits available through Medicare, like preventative health care services. Additionally, SHINE counselors assist low-income Medicare beneficiaries with applying for cost-savings programs and educate beneficiaries to protect, detect, and report potential errors, fraud, and abuse with their Medicare coverage. AAASWFL provides SHINE counseling services at locations across Southwest Florida. To make an appointment with a SHINE counselor, call AAASWFL’s toll-free Elder Helpline at 1-866-413-5337 (866-41-ELDER). A list of counseling sites can also be found on the statewide SHINE website: www.floridashine.org.

Currently celebrating its 40th year of service, Area Agency on Aging for Southwest Florida is a nonprofit organization serving Charlotte, Collier, DeSoto, Glades, Hendry, Lee, and Sarasota Counties. AAASWFL is the state’s designated Aging and Disability Resource Center for Southwest Florida. The organization is committed to connecting older adults and adults with disabilities to resources and assistance for living safely with independence and dignity. In addition to SHINE, supported programs include the Elder Helpline, health and wellness programming, and elder abuse prevention education.
More information is available at www.aaaswfl.org or by calling the toll-free Helpline at 866-413-5337 (866-41-ELDER).

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