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Free counseling offered as Medicare open enrollment period begins

Posted 10/13/22

Medicare open enrollment begins Oct. 15 and runs through Dec. 7 — this is the time when beneficiaries can make changes in their health plan or prescription drug coverage.

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Free counseling offered as Medicare open enrollment period begins


Medicare open enrollment begins Oct. 15 and runs through Dec. 7 — this is the time when beneficiaries can make changes in their health plan or prescription drug coverage and other options that take effect Jan. 1.

The state offers free counseling to help beneficiaries navigate their options, and the state Office for the Aging encourages older New Yorkers to take advantage of the service — which has helped more than 248,000 state residents – by the Health Insurance Information, Counseling and Assistance Program (HIICAP).

To reach a local counselor, call the helpline at 1-800-701-0501.

“Your insurance coverage changes from year-to-year. So do your individual needs as a Medicare beneficiary, such as newly prescribed prescription drugs, having different physicians who may not be in a plan’s network, or changes in your financial status that might make you eligible for assistance to cover out-of-pocket costs,” said NYSOFA Director Gregory Olsen.

“HIICAP counselors are a trusted resource to review your current needs and help you make informed decisions, especially at this critical time during open enrollment. Every beneficiary should take this opportunity to fine-tune their needs,” Olsen said.

Livestream answer session

On Thursday, Oct. 27, at 1 p.m., the state Office for the Aging will feature a livestream on Facebook covering “Medicare Open Enrollment: What You Need to Know.” The program is part of a monthly series where Olsen features guest experts on topics of interest to older adults.

The Oct. 27 event will include:

Heather Leddick, primary HIICAP administrator, who will discuss the HIICAP program, what it offers, and how to get assistance; and

Frederic Riccardi, president of the Medicare Rights Center, who will explain the 2023 changes in Medicare, including expansion of Medicaid and the Medicare Savings Program (MSP).

To register for the program, go online to the agency’s Facebook page at on Oct. 27 at 1 p.m. to watch the program and ask questions of the experts in the livestream chat.

“With over 500 trained HIICAP counselors throughout the state, Medicare beneficiaries, their families, and caregivers have access to a trusted known community resource,” Leddick said.

“We encourage beneficiaries to contact 1-800-701-0501 to schedule a one-on-one counseling appointment at any time throughout the open enrollment period and throughout the year. This free, unbiased service provides education and information to help you make informed decisions about your personal health care needs,” she added.

During open enrollment, or at any time of the year, HIICAP can help beneficiaries:

  • Understand the Medicare prescription drug benefit (Medicare Part D) and how to select the best plan;
  • Understand low-income subsidy programs, including Extra Help and Medicare Savings Programs (MSPs);
  • Find ways to pay for your medications or medical equipment;
  • Understand and apply for the Elderly Pharmaceutical Insurance Coverage (EPIC) program;
  • Choose between original Medicare and Medicare Advantage plans;
  • Understand Medicare rules and your medical bills;
  • Report possible Medicare fraud or abuse;
  • Provide information on how to appeal a decision by Medicare, your managed care provider or other health insurance company;
  • Discover ways to fill in Medicare’s gaps;
  • Learn how to file a Medicare or Medigap complaint; and
  • Learn about Medicare-covered prevention and screenings.

Protect yourself

Medicare experts report a higher risk of potential fraud during the open-enrollment period as well as potentially misleading marketing. Medicare has rules about how plans can and cannot communicate with you to market their insurance products.    

Plans are allowed to mail or e-mail you but are not allowed to call or visit you in person without your permission;

Beware of people who pressure about making plan changes, claim to be representing Medicare, or attempt to alarm you about losing benefits unless you enroll in a particular plan;

Treat your Medicare number as you do your Social Security number and credit card information. Never give personal information, including your Medicare number, to anyone arriving at your home uninvited or making unsolicited phone calls selling Medicare-related products or services. If someone calls and asks for a Medicare number or other personal information, hang up and call 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227).


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