The office of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords encourages current and future Medicare recipients to review drug and health plan coverage options for 2012 and take advantage of improved benefits and lower costs available to enrollees.
The annual Medicare Open Enrollment Period begins today and will end Dec. 7. The enrollment period was expanded this year to give seniors additional time to review their options and choose a plan.
Medicare beneficiaries may use the Medicare Plan Finder tool available at www.medicare.gov or call 1-800-MEDICARE for information and plan comparison. The number is staffed 24 hours a day.
New enrollees may apply online or by calling the Medicare help line.
"Seniors will have better choices and coverage through Medicare, including lower prescription drug costs, wellness checkups and access to preventative care with no copayments," said Pia Carusone, chief of staff to Giffords. "Our office encourages seniors and their families to take advantage of the additional time allotted by Medicare this year to choose the coverage that will best fit their needs. We also stand ready to assist people as they make these important decisions."
In September, Giffords' office held a series of Medicare 101 events in Tucson, Green Valley and Sierra Vista. More than 250 people attended the events and asked Medicare experts questions about their coverage prior to the Open Enrollment Period.
Representatives from the Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services, Health and Human Services and the local State Health Insurance Assistance Programs gave presentations and answered questions related to Medicare at each event. Giffords' staff also discussed common problems and ways that her office can intervene.
Giffords' constituent services representatives are available to help seniors and their families during the Open Enrollment Period.
Constituents may call 881-3588 in Tucson or 459-3115 in Sierra Vista, or visit http://giffords.house.gov/ to request assistance.
• The 2012 Medicare & You handbook, mailed to Medicare beneficiaries and available online.
• The Medicare & You 2012 handbook in Spanish also is online.
• One-on-one counseling assistance is available through the local State Health Insurance Assistance Programs. Seniors and their families may contact the Pima Council on Aging at 520-546-2011 or the SouthEastern Arizona Governments Organization at 432-5301, ext. 205.
Medicare beneficiaries who have limited incomes and resources may qualify for the Extra Help program for assistance in paying prescription drug costs.
There is no cost to apply for Extra Help, also called the low-income subsidy.
Medicare beneficiaries, family members, trusted counselors or caregivers may apply online at: www.socialsecurity.gov/prescriptionhelp or call Social Security at 1-800-772-1213.