Are you one of the nearly 150,000 Ohioans who will celebrate their 65th birthday this year?
If so, you will become eligible for Medicare and will likely have questions about your health care benefits. You will face a dizzying array of choices: Which prescription drug plan is right for you? Should you choose traditional Medicare coverage or a Medicare Advantage plan? Do you need a Medicare supplemental plan, or "gap" coverage?
The Ohio Department of Aging is dedicated to meeting the needs of Ohio's growing and changing aging population, including helping you make informed decisions. The options available with Medicare can be confusing, and the decisions you make can impact the quality of your health care for a long time. To help, we continue our long-standing partnership with the Ohio Department of Insurance, under the leadership of Lt. Gov. and Director Mary Taylor.
Staff and volunteers in the Department's Ohio Senior Health Insurance Information Program provide older Ohioans like you with free, friendly assistance in choosing Medicare options that best suit your needs - sometimes saving you money. Last year, the OSHIIP program helped more than 160,000 Medicare-eligible Ohioans save a record $16.4 million.
Whether you are already enrolled in Medicare or about to become eligible, OSHIIP offers consumer-friendly written information, and its staff can answer your questions about topics such as:
Medicare health coverage for older adults age 65-plus and for younger adults who are Medicare-eligible because of disabilities;
Medicare prescription drug plans;
Medicare Advantage plans (HMOs and PPOs);
Medicare supplemental insurance;
Financial assistance programs for individuals with a limited income; and
Long-term care insurance.
Getting information and assistance from OSHIIP is easy. Call (800) 686-1578 or visit the OSHIIP website at www.insurance.ohio.gov. If you have Internet access, you can attend one of OSHIIP's "Welcome to Medicare" webinars online throughout the year.
Visit the OSHIIP website for the dates and times of these webinars.
If you do not have Internet access, you can attend one of the many "Welcome to Medicare" in-person sessions around the state beginning in April. Call OSHIIP to learn more about these sessions so that you can attend one close to you.
When you, as an older Ohioan, fully understand your Medicare benefits and options, you can get the most out of your coverage.
That is why the Department of Aging will continue our partnership with Taylor and the Department of Insurance to help as many Ohioans in 2014 as we can. Together we can help you remain a healthy Golden Buckeye who continues to grow, thrive and contribute to your communities.
(Burman is director of the Ohio Department of Aging.)