Local enrollment counselors are encouraging northwest Ohioans to seek help choosing a Medicare plan this enrollment period as political debates about the future role of private insurance continue to dominate campaign trails leading up to 2020.
Tuesday marks the first day of the 2020 Medicare enrollment period, which will last until Dec. 7. The open enrollment period for Medicaid and the Affordable Care Act, begin on Nov. 1 and last until Dec. 15, a period that has been shortened from 92 days to 45 days under President Donald Trump's administration.
Rick Dunlop, the CEO of UnitedHealthcare Medicare and Retirement in Ohio encourages folks to go over their plans each year to ensure they're on the best plan. He says because health and financial situations change and the Center for Medicare Services occasionally alters its rules, it's important to follow up on services each year.
"We always advocate for people to speak with an agent," Mr. Dunlop said Monday. "We have a lot of resources that people can take advantage of."
There are thousands of independent agents who assist people in enrollment across the state. There are also local Area Office on Aging organizations and the Ohio Senior Health Insurance Information Program, which assists people in enrollment.
Mr. Dunlop says he expects a large enrollment this year, a continued trend of increases in signups recently.
Northwest Ohioans looking for help with enrollment can receive personal one-on-one counseling from the Northwest Ohio Area Office on Aging and are encouraged to do so, says Meredith Wagoner, the organization's director of the Retired and Senior Volunteer Program. The program has 12 counselors who can walk seniors through the process to make sure they're on the best and most cost-effective plan.
"We encourage everyone to look over their coverage and re-evaluate their plan every year," Ms. Wagoner said. "We've partnered with the Ohio Department of Insurance and we have counselors who are certified to help. Folks can bring in their Medicare card and we can go over what they have and what's available to them."
Ms. Wagoner says to act fast, as the organization has already scheduled appointments into November.
"We expect a high number this year," she added.
In Washington, Medicare remains a hot topic of debate. Earlier this month, President Trump signed an executive order he says is in response to calls for "Medicare for all" from Democratic presidential candidates, a change he believes would put health care "under threat."
"Medicare is under threat like never before," the president told a crowd of supporters at a Florida rally. "I will never allow these politicians to steal your health care and give it away to illegal aliens."
Two Democratic presidential candidates, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders and Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, however support backing out of private insurance across all markets in order to implement a universal plan.
In 2019, nearly one-third of all Medicare enrollees (22 million) received their Medicare coverage through private plans. Insurers collect a fee from the government for each person who signs up, which was $11,545 on average this year, totaling $254 billion.
To schedule an appointment with the Northwest Ohio Area Office on Aging, call (419) 382-0624.
Information from The Blade's news services was used in this report.
(c)2019 The Blade (Toledo, Ohio)
Visit The Blade (Toledo, Ohio) at www.toledoblade.com
Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.