Medicare enrollment help goes strictly virtual for 2020


By Mary Schuermann Kuhlman - Ohio News Service



COLUMBUS — The pandemic has changed many aspects of life, and the annual Medicare enrollment period which kicks off today is no exception.

The Ohio Senior Health Insurance Information Program and other outreach organizations are offering plan reviews by phone or online, as in-person assistance isn’t permitted due to COVID-19.

Kyal Moody, senior vice president for Medicare Benefits Solutions, said his group is also offering free assistance through an online plan-comparison service.

He explained there are a lot of choices in Ohio.

“Depending on where you live, in the larger metropolitan service areas, you may be able to see might find upwards of 10 to 15 plans available through most of the large national carriers, as well as few local/regional plans,” Moody outlined. “And more than 20 plans offer Medicare supplements in Ohio.”

The enrollment period for coverage starting Jan. 1 runs through Dec. 7. More than 60 million people are Medicare recipients, including 2.3 million Ohioans.

Moody said there are some important changes to note. First, people with end-stage renal disease can now enroll in a Medicare Advantage plan. And second, he said, most plans now have telemedicine at the forefront of their offerings.

“In the past, it used to be an optional supplemental benefit that was kind of buried in the plan details,” Moody observed. “And you paid a premium to have the ability to talk to a doctor over the phone, or on your smartphone or computer.”

Moody encouraged everyone with a Medicare plan to review their coverage, as health conditions and plans can change year to year. And he said it’s a good idea to start now.

“If you can imagine, 61 million people waiting until the last week to do so,” Moody cautioned. “It gets very busy regardless of where you call, regardless of which website you go to. If you do it early, you can have peace of mind before the holidays begin, even before Thanksgiving.”

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By Mary Schuermann Kuhlman

Ohio News Service

Reporting by Ohio News Connection in association with Media in the Public Interest and funded in part by the George Gund Foundation.

Reporting by Ohio News Connection in association with Media in the Public Interest and funded in part by the George Gund Foundation.