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COVID restrictions will mean a new process for Medicare open enrollment this year

Posted: Sun, Oct 4, 2020 7:22 AM

Open enrollment for Iowans on Medicare who want to change plans will begin October 15th and run through December 7th.  Iowans who miss the open enrollment deadline most likely will have to wait a full year before making changes to their plan. Changes to Medicare plans will be effective January 1st, 2021.  

Medicare open enrollment help is available through the SHIIP hosted by Winneshiek Medical Center.  SHIIP offers free, unbiased and confidential assistance to Iowans in this process.  Volunteer counselors can help people understand their Medicare benefits by:

--Checking a client's current Part D or Medicare Advantage plan to make sure drugs are covered at the lowest cost and with the least amount of restrictions
--Reviewing a client's employer coverage and comparing it to other Medicare options
--Checking to see if clients are eligible for Part D "Extra Help"
--Providing education to help clients understand options if not currently on a drug plan

However, there are COVID-19 modifications in effect this year for local Medicare help.  Seniors interested in comparing plans must call (563) 387-3036 and leave a message with their name, phone number and address.  SHIIP will then mail seniors information to be filled out and returned in the provided, addressed envelope.  The SHIIP counselor will run the comparisons and contact clients via phone with the results.  No SHIIP appointments will be carried out in person.

Winneshiek Medical Center SHIIP coordinator Karla Bakken says, "I encourage seniors to request the comparison packet early this season and not wait.  Due to COVID-19 precautions, the entire process will take longer than clients are used to.  Those who wait until the end of the enrollment period to start the process may miss the deadline."  The deadline for changing plans is December 7th.

Once again, for SHIIP support, call Winneshiek Medical Center at (563) 387-3036 and leave a message to request the comparison information packet.