Providing free help with Medicare

Providing free help with Medicare

danaire paproth
Christiana Care helped Denaire Paproth to understand her Medicare options.

Denaire Paproth felt bewildered. She was approaching her 65th birthday and eligibility for Medicare, but the vast number of options-45 drug plans alone-simply overwhelmed her.

“I was kind of lost,” Paproth said. “I had done some research on my own, but I had a lot of questions.”

Paproth found answers at a Medicare information and enrollment event that was held in November at Christiana Care’s Newark campus. Christiana Care has hosted the event the past two years to assist seniors in our community during the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid’s (CMS) open enrollment, which runs Nov. 15 through Dec. 31.

“We collaborate with CMS and other agencies to help Delawareans check on their health plan,” says Linda Brittingham, corporate director of Social Work at Christiana Care. “This is an important benefit we provide to our community during the open enrollment period.”

Trained counselors met with 47 people—a 17 percent increase from last year’s event held at the Wilmington Hospital Health Center. The counselors address a wide variety of Medicare questions, but they focus primarily on Medicare Part D, the drug-coverage option, because it is so complex.

“Most people are comfortable with the health piece of Medicare, but the drug piece concerns them,” says Brittingham. “There is much more information to process, and the consequences are significant.”

Different Medicare Part D plans cover different drugs and at different costs, so what’s right for one person might be wrong for another. And the plan that saves a person the most money can change from year to year.

Everyone who meets with a counselor receives a list of the top six drug plans that cover their drugs at the lowest cost.

After receiving advice on which plan to choose, Paproth took advantage of information booths set up by Christiana Care’s Visiting Nurse Association, Social Security, the Delaware Prescription Assistance Program and others.

Where to get help

The Medicare Web site allows Medicare recipients and their caregivers to research and compare original Medicare and Medicare HMO and PPO plans. With the site’s Medicare Prescription Drug Plan Finder, people can enter their specific medication list and find the plans that suit them best.

Delawareans on Medicare or their caregivers can also call ELDERinfo at 800-336-9500 for free health-insurance counseling.