Houston Health Department's Area Agency on Aging Offering Free Benefits Counseling
Medicare beneficiaries have one month left to compare health and prescription drug plans for 2024. The deadline for beneficiaries to review their coverage options and make changes is December 7, and free benefits counseling is available.
The Harris County Area Agency on Aging (HCAAA), a division of the Houston Health Department (HHD), offers free benefits counseling to beneficiaries signing up for Medicare options during the annual open enrollment period. People can enroll in Medicare if they are 65 or older, under 65 and have a disability, or have end-stage renal disease or ALS, also called Lou Gehrig’s disease.
Although benefits counselors do not recommend or endorse any specific insurance company or plan, they provide unbiased information and advice so beneficiaries can make their own decisions. Beneficiaries or their legal representatives can receive guidance by calling 832-393-4301 or requesting in-office appointments. They need the following items on-hand during appointments:
- Medicare card (if changing current benefits)
- a list of current medications
- award letter from Social Security or proof of income, and
- proof of current health insurance.
Open enrollment for most beneficiaries may be the only time they can make changes to their Medicare coverage. They can:
- change their Medicare health or prescription drug coverage for 2024.
- change from Original Medicare to a Medicare Advantage plan.
- change from Medicare Advantage plan back to Original Medicare, or
decide which plan will meet their needs for 2024.
Did You Know?
Beneficiaries have options to save on costs with the Medicare Savings Programs (MSP) and Extra Help or Part D Low-Income Subsidy (LIS) programs. The programs assist with premiums, deductibles, coinsurance and copays.
Starting January 1, 2024, beneficiaries won’t have to pay a copayment or coinsurance if they have Medicare drug coverage (Part D) and their drug costs are high enough to reach the catastrophic coverage phase. Also, Medicare drug plans can't charge more than $35 for a one-month supply of each insulin product Part D covers and beneficiaries don’t have to pay a deductible for it.
Medicare now covers monthly services to treat chronic pain for people living with it for more than three months.
HCAAA and the Aging & Disability Resource Center (ADRC) are partnering to offer free help for beneficiaries under age 60 who need to sign up for Medicare options during the annual open enrollment period. Beneficiaries under age 60 can obtain benefits counseling or more information by calling the ADRC’s call center at 1-855-937-2372.
New coverage begins January 1. Medicare plans are available for previewing online at Medicare.gov.