AP NEWS

The benefits of aging

November 30, 2018

GREENWICH — Greenwich seniors only have a week left to take advantage of free assistance that could lead to significant cost savings on their health plans.

The Greenwich Commission on Aging is once again offering counseling sessions for seniors about their Medicare Part D benefits, but a deadline is looming on Dec. 7 when the federal open enrollment period ends. The commission will hold sessions on Friday and through next week with trained professionals.

“We save literally hundreds of thousands of dollars for residents by looking at their prescription drug plans,” Lori Contandino, director of the Commission on Aging, said on Thursday. “We always want folks to be in a plan that is best tailored to their unique medication profile and their needs. An annual look at this is really what we advocate for.”

According to Contandino, as of Monday they had seen 318 residents and saved them a total of $190,291.

The open enrollment period began in mid-October; it is the time of year when Medicare beneficiaries can enroll in a plan that provides Part D drug coverage. Contandino said anyone who is on Medicare can benefit from the counseling session because even if they are happy with their current plans they can at least see the options that are available and decide if they want to make a change.

“There have been some significant changes in some of the plans formularies which means if people stay with their plans they may end up paying significantly more,” Contandino said. “If they move from one prescription drug plan to another they could find something better suited to their individual profile.”

Contandino said the sessions also allow for people to find out the best way to get supplemental insurance to enhance their Medcare coverage. It is “essential” people have supplemental insurance to make sure all of their health costs are covered, she said.

Counseling will be offered at the Senior Center from 8:30 to noon on Friday. Next week, times will be Monday from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. at Greenwich Library and then at the Senior Center on Tuesday, Thursday and Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.

While walk ins are accommodated when possible, making an appointment in advance is preferred; call 203-862-6710. Seniors must bring their Medicare cards, their current prescription drug plan and card, and the prescriptions they are taking in their original pill containers.

The counselors receive training yearly to learn about all changes to health care rules. That includes time in the classroom and a test they must pass. Contandino said six counselors are working with the commission this year to provide help to town seniors.

“We couldn’t be better poised with counselors this season,” Contandino said.

Sam Deibler, a former director of the Commission on Aging, has been volunteering for years and said it’s possible people can be missing out on huge savings they don’t even know about. He met Thursday with one resident who is on a limited budget and found that by switching plans, medication she had been paying $84 a month for was available for $3 a month.

“This helps people save money and it’s so easy,” said John Timm, a volunteer counselor. “This can mean so much to people on limited incomes. They might not know they have access to this but it’s out there”

Carol Nelson came Thursday to the Senior Center to gethelp for the first time and said she was grateful for all the answers it provided her. “They’re incredible,” Nelson said. “I came in totally confused and they were such a huge help. A lot of things have changed for me this year and a lot is going on at once. It can be overwhelming, but this is amazing. They make it so clear. I feel blessed to have this.”

Livvy Collins came in for her second year and she said again was able to save money.

“They have such expertise,” Collins said. “There are so many choices available. ... I don’t think I would have been able to do this myself.”

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