Medicare recipients have homework to complete by Dec. 7.

The annual open enrollment period for Medicare offers seniors an opportunity to comparison shop and make adjustments to their benefits.

“A lot can change with your health from year to year, and that makes Medicare coverage and the supplemental policies you purchase an important item when it comes to reviewing your health insurance coverage regularly,” said Wally Davis, North Mississippi Health Services vice president.

Part D counseling

In partnership with county supervisor boards, Three Rivers Area Agency on Aging and the Mississippi Department of Aging and Adult Services are making free assistance available to help seniors update their Medicare Part D prescription drug benefits.

Through mid-November, more than 500 residents in Calhoun, Chickasaw, Itawamba, Lafayette, Lee, Monroe, Pontotoc and Union counties have used the service and have saved an average of $900 in prescription medicine costs. About 80 percent of the participants are finding less expensive plans.

Counselors are available 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday at the Calhoun County Courthouse in Pittsboro, ICDC building in Fulton, Lafayette County Chancery Building in Oxford, Lee County Board of Supervisors Center in Tupelo, Three Rivers PDD in Pontotoc and the Union County Board of Supervisors building in New Albany.

In Chickasaw County, the counselor will be at the Okolona Courthouse 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday and Tuesday and 8 a.m. to noon Wednesday. The counselor will be available at the Houston Courthouse 1 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. Wednesday and 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Thursday and Friday.

In Monroe County, the counselor will be available 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Wednesday at the American Legion Building in Aberdeen and Thursday and Friday at the Monroe County Government Complex in Amory.

Participants should bring their Medicare card and a list of prescriptions. The sessions usually take about 15 minutes.

New option

For seniors who are eligible for both Medicare and Medicaid, North Mississippi Health Services is participating in a new United Healthcare Dual Complete Health Plan, which is a Medicare Advantage plan. Medicare Advantage, which is covered under Part C of Medicare, provides managed care programs and can offer additional benefits like dental and vision coverage.

The dual complete plan offers a health and wellness products card, dental coverage, personal emergency response system, coverage for physician ordered meal plan and routine vision coverage. In Northeast Mississippi, it is available in Alcorn, Benton, Clay, Lafayette, Lee, Marshall, Monroe, Oktibbeha, Pontotoc, Tippah and Union counties.

No change

NMHS hospitals and clinics will continue to be out of network for Humana Medicare Advantage Plan for 2020 as they were in 2019. NMHS exited the Humana Medicare Advantage Network at the end of 2018, citing issues with reimbursements.

Humana Commercial group members through employers’ sponsored health plans in the region are not affected and remain in network with NMHS.

Additionally, State of Alabama retirees, who are covered through Humana Medicare Advantage, are not impacted out-of-network status for NMHS. For that group, the benefits are the same for both in- and out-of-network providers.

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