Oswego County News Release
Oswego County Public Information Office, 46 East Bridge St., Oswego, NY 13126

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March 20, 2008

Reminder to Residents: Medicare Advantage Plans Offer Option in Health Care

The Oswego County Office for the Aging is reminding county residents that March 31 marks the end of the 2008 open enrollment for a Medicare Advantage Plan, also known as “Medicare Part C.” Medicare Advantage Plans are health plan options that are part of the Medicare program, but are offered by private insurance companies. The program affects people age 65 and over, and people who qualify for Medicare through social security disability payments.

“If you join one of these plans, all of your Medicare-covered health care is covered through that plan,” said Larry Schmidt, Director of the Oswego County Office for the Aging. “This coverage can include Medicare Part D prescription drug coverage.”

Medicare Advantage Plans are comprised of:

  • Medicare Health Maintenance organizations (HMOs)

  • Preferred Provider organizations (PPOs)

  • Private Fee-for-Service Plans

  • Medicare Special Needs Plans

“When you join a Medicare Advantage Plan, you will receive a health care insurance card,” Schmidt explained. “In most of these plans, there are extra benefits and lower co-payments as compared to the original Medicare plan. However, to receive services, you may be restricted to use certain doctors or hospitals that belong to the plan.

“In order to join a Medicare Advantage Plan, you must have Medicare Parts A and B, and you will pay your monthly Medicare Part B premium to Medicare. In addition, you may have to pay a monthly premium to your Medicare Advantage Plan for the extra benefits that they offer. You can contact the plan of your choice directly to enroll or look in the yellow pages for a local insurance agent.”

Schmidt said it's important for people to realize that when they join a Medicare Advantage Plan, Medicare and Medigap will no longer pay for their health care. This means that they will not cover deductibles, co-payments or other cost-sharing.

There are several factors to consider when enrolling in a Medicare Advantage Plan:

  • Ask for information and talk it over with someone you trust.

  • Compare plans and know what you already have.

  • Make sure the plan has a contract with Medicare.

  • Ask if the doctors you use are in the plan.

  • The Office for the Aging advises people to keep the following tips in mind:

  • Never provide personal information over the phone.

  • No one can be enrolled without giving their permission.

  • Door-to-door solicitation is not permitted.

  • A salesperson must comply with no-call laws.

Members of the Office for the Aging staff can provide more information on Medicare plans. Located in the Oswego County Office Complex at 70 Bunner St., Oswego, the agency is open Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m., phone 349-3484 or 1-800-596-3200, ext. 3484.

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