October 20, 2022
Medicare Open Enrollment season is upon us! Medicare Open Enrollment takes place from October 15 to December 7, for plans that will take effect on January 1, 2023.
Please read this message to learn more about Medicare Open Enrollment, how to schedule with CCHCC for help with Medicare Open Enrollment, and what options exist for State Retirees.
Medicare is complicated! CCHCC is here to help. Medicare is the federal health insurance program for people who are 65 or older; certain younger people with disabilities; and people with End-Stage Renal Disease.
Medicare is complicated. There are many parts, and there are many options for additional coverage. And there are more expenses that go with Medicare than most people realize. To learn more about Medicare, go to CCHCC’s Medicare Open Enrollment Center.
If you have a Medicare Advantage Plan or a Part D prescription drug plan, the Medicare Open Enrollment period is a great time to review your plan for any changes for the coming year of coverage, or to change plans if needed. Even if you love your plan, CCHCC always encourages Medicare beneficiaries to review their plan for the coming year, as formularies for medications and other benefits can change.
Medicare is complicated, but CCHCC’s knowledgeable and experienced Community Health Workers are here to help our community members navigate the Medicare system!
Resources for low-income Medicare beneficiaries. CCHCC has expertise in helping low-income Medicare beneficiaries. The Medicare Savings Program helps pay the Medicare Part B monthly premiums for low-income Medicare beneficiaries. If more low-income individuals knew about The Medicare Savings Program at the time that they are signing up for Medicare, fewer people would forego Part B coverage.
The Medicare Extra Help Program helps make Part D prescription coverage and out-of-pocket prescriptions more affordable for low-income Medicare beneficiaries.
CCHCC helps low-income Medicare beneficiaries apply and qualify for these programs. But too many people are unaware that these programs exist, so CCHCC is working hard to provide community education about these programs.
How to schedule an appointment with CCHCC for help with Medicare Open Enrollment. This year, CCHCC is providing in-person Medicare assistance by appointment at two locations: our downtown Champaign office, and the Champaign Public Library.
Please note that you must schedule an appointment in order to see us at either location! You can schedule online or by phone. Here is how you can schedule an appointment based on the location you’d prefer:
Location: CCHCC Office at 44 E. Main Street, Suite 208, Champaign – Call (217) 352-6533.
◦ Appointments available on Tuesday and Thursday afternoons
Location: Champaign Public Library – 200 W. Green Street, Champaign – Call (217) 403-2000 or click here.
◦ Appointments available every other Wednesday afternoon starting November 2
◦ November 2
◦ November 16
◦ November 30
◦ December 7
Medicare Options for State of Illinois Retirees. We at CCHCC share the frustration and exasperation and fear that many IL State Retirees are experiencing about the recent decision by the State CMS to offer ONLY an Aetna plan – a plan that has already been proven to be very problematic in our community, which is a hub for health care for many downstate retirees.
The State’s decision to contract with Aetna is baffling to us, and it is not a good decision for the state retirees who seek health care in our community. Quite frankly, the State should offer retirees more than one option so that they are not stuck with a plan that separates them from their trusted providers.
You can protest the State’s decision by contacting your State Senator and Representative, the Governor, and the head of your former employer. They should be advocating to the state on your behalf, and pushing the State to offer more than one plan! CCHCC will send a separate email in a few days on how to do this.
But for now, if you are a State Retiree, many of you are wondering what your options are, if you don’t want the Aetna plan.
The good news is that you DO have options. The bad news is that you might have to pay for the full cost of your health insurance if you choose another option. But for many of you, it might be worth doing so.
CMS issued an FAQ on 10/11/2022, and in that FAQ, questions #14 and #15 address the issue of whether or not a State Retiree can “opt out” of the State’s coverage during the State’s open enrollment period in favor of seeking insurance outside of the State’s plan, and whether they can return to State coverage the following year.
The answer is YES! This means that you CAN explore other Medicare plans in the Medicare Open Enrollment season, and see if you can find one that works better for you than what the State is offering through Aetna.
However, if you DO plan to opt out of what the State is offering you, you MUST do so by November 30.
If you do choose to opt out of the State’s offer for the Aetna plan, you can still keep your state sponsored dental and life insurance plans.
Here is what CCHCC is recommending for State Retirees who are thinking about opting out of the State offered Aetna plan:
1. Explore your Medicare options as soon as possible by scheduling an appointment with CCHCC or a SHIP counselor (Senior Health Insurance Program) and review Medicare Advantage and Part D plans available during Medicare Open Enrollment. Please see above for how to schedule with CCHCC. If you want to do this, schedule as soon as you can, given that November 30 is the deadline for opting out of the State’s Aetna plan. You will have until December 7 to enroll in a Medicare plan through Medicare.gov.
2. Compare the costs for both options, and also consider what is best for you in terms of continuing with a treatment plan that you have started with local providers, and your need for continuity of care.
3. If you are a lower income person, you can also work with CCHCC to see if you might qualify for Medicare Savings and/or Medicare Extra Help, to help reduce your Medicare-related out-of-pocket costs.
4. If you do want to choose a plan outside of the State’s Aetna plan, you MUST opt out of the State’s plan before you can enroll in another plan offered through Medicare.gov. You can opt out of the State’s plan by calling My Benefits 844-251-1777 and telling them you want to opt out. You MUST opt out by November 30, and you can enroll in a non-state sponsored Medicare plan through Medicare.gov by December 7.
CCHCC’s Medicare Education, Enrollment, and Advocacy Project. Our Medicare work includes both direct client services, as well as community education. Every fall, CCHCC holds a Medicare Open Enrollment Community Meeting, to help prepare community members for choosing a Medicare Part D prescription plan, or a Medicare Advantage plan, and to provide information about any new changes to Medicare. In addition, CCHCC develops easy-to-understand handouts on Medicare, and does presentations to community groups. View CCHCC’s PowerPoint presentation on Medicare Open Enrollment.
We hope you will help support CCHCC’s Medicare Education, Enrollment, and Advocacy Project by making a commitment to help share CCHCC’s resources with others, letting people know that we are here to help; and/or making a financial contribution to support this work.
We thank you for your commitment, and for your ongoing support and involvement!
Champaign County Health Care Consumers