Medicare’s Fall Open Enrollment Period (OEP) can be a stressful time for people with Medicare. This year, the Medicare Rights Center’s national helpline provided critical Fall OEP counseling and assistance to clients, with counselors providing all services virtually from their homes due to the coronavirus public health emergency. Between October and December, Medicare Rights’ staff and corps of dedicated volunteers helped 2,000 older adults and people with disabilities explore their coverage options, use Medicare’s Plan Finder tool to compare prescription drug plans, and answer their coronavirus-related questions.
In addition to its annual Fall OEP work, and in order to provide needed assistance and connection during the pandemic, Medicare Rights continued to conduct virtual wellness visits to clients in New York who had previously received assistance applying for Medicare cost-assistance programs. Medicare Rights began this project last summer and has already helped hundreds of clients answer additional Medicare-related questions and connect to benefits, such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.
Medicare Rights also continues to field helpline questions about ongoing challenges facing people with Medicare. These challenges are detailed in Medicare Rights’ most recent Helpline Trends Report, published in October 2020. The broad themes explored in the report include enrolling in Medicare Part B, appealing a Medicare Advantage Plan coverage decision, and affording prescription drugs. Medicare Rights has also been monitoring trends related to the pandemic and will continue releasing timely educational materials on accessing coverage and care, including the coronavirus vaccine.
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