Residents in eight Northeast Mississippi counties will have free access to qualified Medicare Part D counselors as part of the annual partnership between county boards of supervisors, Three Rivers Planning and Development District and the Mississippi Department of Aging and Adult Services.

The service, open to anyone who qualifies for Medicare in Calhoun, Chickasaw, Itawamba, Lafayette, Lee, Monroe, Pontotoc and Union counties, is entirely free.

Open enrollment is Oct. 15 to Dec. 7.

Trained Medicare counselors provide free Medicare Part D Prescription Drug plan counseling by comparing drug costs for 2021. A drug plan comparison is completed at Medicare.gov, the official U.S. government Medicare website. The counselors are Three Rivers PDD staff members and do not sell any insurance. Counselors will offer free, neutral, non-biased Medicare counseling using the pricing on Medicare.gov.

The monthly premium of the Part D drug plan will be deducted from the person’s Social Security check like other aspects of Medicare.

The counseling session takes about 30 minutes, and participants need to bring their Medicare card and list of prescriptions to their counseling session.

Hours are 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday to Friday at each location.

In previous years, 80% of persons making a comparison found a cheaper plan. Of those 80% who found a cheaper plan, savings were up to a $1,000 a year on medications.

In 2019, county counselors completed 1,293 comparisons. Of them 118 were new to Medicare, 244 elected to keep their current plan, and 931, or 79% of those assisted, found a less expensive plan saving them an average of $1,017 in out-of-pocket costs for 2020.

Any Medicare Beneficiary with a Medicare drug plan can search for a cheaper drug plan for 2021 during open enrollment. New plan will start Jan. 1.

If a person on Medicare currently does not have a Part D Drug plan, open enrollment is the time to enroll and the new plan will start January 1.

The locations where the counseling sessions will be held include:

Calhoun: CEDA Building (across from Courthouse), 106 N. Murphree St., Pittsboro, 662-321-1126

Chickasaw: Two locations – All day Mon, Tues, then Wed. 8 a.m – Noon, Okolona Courthouse, 234 W. Main St., Okolona, 662-321-1100

Wed 1 p.m. – 4:30 p.m., then all day Thurs, Friday, Houston Courthouse, 1 Pinson Square, Houston, 662-321-1100

Itawamba: ICDC Building, 107 West Wiygul St., Fulton, 662-321-2780

Lafayette: Lafayette County Chancery Building, 300 North Lamar Blvd., Oxford, 662-321-7086

Lee: Lee County Board of Supervisors Center, 300 West Main St., Tupelo, 662-321-1110

Monroe: Two locations – Mon, Tues, Wed, Monroe County Government Complex, 1619 Highland Dr., Amory, 662-321-2946

Thursday, Friday, Monroe County Chancery Building, 201 W. Commerce St., Aberdeen; 662-321-2946

• Pontotoc: Three Rivers PDD, 75 S. Main St., Pontotoc, 662-489-2415,

Union: Union County Board of Supervisors Building, 108 E. Main St., New Albany, 662-321-9312

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