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Know your health insurance benefits, deadlines, Fox Point urges

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The opportunity to change any Medicare health or prescription drug coverage for next year occurs during the “open enrollment period,” which runs from October 15 to December 7.

Medicare is a U.S. government program providing health insurance coverage for senior citizens age 65 years and older, the disabled of any age, and people suffering from end-stage kidney disease. Medicare is divided into four parts: Medicare Part A, in-patient hospital insurance; Part B, out-patient medical insurance; Part C, Medicare Advantage: and Part D, prescription drug coverage.

American workers who’ve paid into the Medicare system for years, are eligible for benefits at age 65. Medicare isn’t free, and seniors are advised to review details before choosing coverage, and exploring the possibility of supplemental insurance.

When Medicare doesn’t provide enough coverage for health care needs, supplemental insurance plans are available to defray extra costs for non-covered expenses.

According to the Medicare and You handbook, October is the time to “start comparing your coverage with other options. You may be able to save money.

“You don’t need to sign up for Medicare each year. However, each year you’ll have a chance to review your coverage and make changes.”

Since changes are allowed only during certain time periods, Medicare advises customers to read its periodic notices and observe deadlines to avoid penalties.

Points to consider when choosing or changing coverage include: How much are the premiums and deductibles? Where are the in-network doctors’ offices and pharmacies? Does the plan cover the specific services needed?

Medicare.gov suggests, “You can get free personalized health insurance counseling from your local State Health Insurance Assistance Program.” Illinois residents can access help by calling the Illinois Department on Aging at 1-800-252-8966, and choosing option two to speak with a senior health insurance specialist. Or call Medicare at 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227) and say “agent.”

For information about senior living communities, contact McHenry-based Fox Point at (815) 322-7166, or visit http://www.seniorlifestyles.com/foxpoint.

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