Anyone who could use free help finding the best, cheapest option for their Medicare Part D Prescription plan now has fast, local counseling at their fingertips.

Running from now until Dec. 7, on weekdays from 8 a.m. until 4:30 p.m., Three Rivers Planning and Development District is offering professional advice for anyone in its eight-county area who qualifies for Medicare. Residents in Calhoun, Chickasaw, Itawamba, Lee, Monroe, Pontotoc, and Union counties are strongly encouraged to take advantage.

The counseling costs nothing, takes only about 30 minutes, and it could trim hundreds from recipients’ costs each year, according to an expert in Pontotoc County.

“We want seniors to pass the word that we’re here for them and we might be able to save them a lot of money,” said Wade Holland, state health insurance coordinator with Three Rivers. Holland is part of team of professionals making their services available to Medicare recipients during this year’s open enrollment, Oct. 15 to Dec. 7.

“We’re not selling anything because we’re not an insurance-provider,” said Holland. “We’re offering useful, non-biased advice, comparing recipients’ current rates to market data to see if they have the most cost-efficient option.”

Counselors will use the official U.S. website Medicare.gov, and will complete the rate-comparison plan online by looking at drug costs for 2021. Medicare recipients should bring their Medicare card and a list of their prescriptions.

The numbers don’t lie about the effectiveness of the free service Three Rivers is offering, Holland said. In 2019, county counselors in Three Rivers’ eight-county area completed 1,293 comparisons. Seventy-nine percent of those people chose to go with a different plan than the one they currently had, and they saved an average of $1,017 in yearly out-of-pocket costs.

“Seniors are surprised that they can spend a few minutes talking to us and sometimes save a lot of money,” said Holland. “That’s what we’re here for. If someone doesn’t want to change plans, that’s fine. At least they’ll have the peace of mind of knowing that their current plan best suits their needs.”

Mickey Gentry and his wife, Sylvia, have been relying on Holland’s advice for four years. Holland has steered them right every time, according to Gentry, who serves as minister of senior adults at First Baptist Church of Pontotoc. The Gentrys have changed Part D plans three times, per Holland’s recommendation, and most recently saved about $1,000 between them, Mickey said.

“Wade makes it effortless,” said Gentry. “He’s taken down all our medications and has done an excellent job helping us choose the most economical policies to fit our needs. He handles the cancellations from one policy, as well as the reservations onto the new policy.”

Gentry reflected about the value of the service Holland and Three Rivers’ counselors offer.

“Saving $100 would be great,” Gentry said. “Saving $1,000 means a lot to us and many people in this area. I recommend taking advantage of this service.”

Those wishing to receive free counseling about Medicare Part D plans are encouraged to call their closest location among those listed below. Walk-ins are also accepted when possible.

In Pontotoc, Three Rivers Planning and Development District office is located at 75 South Main Street, Pontotoc. The phone number is 662-489-2415. 

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

-Chickasaw County, 2 locations:

-Okolona-All day Mon, Tues, then Wed 8 - Noon, Okolona Courthouse, 234 W. Main St., Okolona, 662-321-1100; Houston Wed 1 pm - 4:30 pm, then all day Thurs, Friday, Houston Courthouse, 1 Pinson Square, Houston, 662-321-1100;

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

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

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

Monroe County: 2 locations: Amory- Mon, Tues, Wed, Monroe County Government Complex, 1619 Highland Dr., Amory, 662-321-2946; in Aberdeen- Thursday, Friday, Monroe County Chancery Building, 201 W. Commerce St., Aberdeen; 662-321-2946;

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

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

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