Area Agency on Aging to host Medicare plan shopping classes

By: Lisa Hayes
| Published 10/18/2012

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HOUSTON -- Knowing learning is doing, the Area Agency on Aging has teamed up with a computer store in Baybrook Mall to teach older Texans and their caregivers how to compare Medicare Part D plans, supplemental plans and advantage plans while using Medicare’s online tool Plan Finder. The workshops will be held October 23 and October 30 both from 9:30 a.m. – 10:30 a.m. Participants must pre-register as seating is very limited by calling the Area Agency on Aging at 713-993-4507.

“Medicare Part D Plans change each year and what prescriptions they cover and at what cost also changes,” said Curtis Cooper, Manager of the Houston-Galveston Area Agency on Aging. “The out-of-pocket costs by plan can vary greatly depending on a person’s specific list of drugs. When comparing premiums and different levels of co-pays, it can be very confusing when comparing plans, but Medicare has an online tool that calculates the cost for each person based on their current prescriptions.”

For those who cannot attend The Area Agency on Aging can assist persons with Medicare to shop plans. Internet savvy consumers can visit www.medicare.gov/find-a-plan to see the estimated out-of-pocket costs for plans offered. Consumers in the 12 counties outside of Harris County (Austin, Brazoria, Chambers, Colorado, Fort Bend, Galveston, Liberty, Matagorda, Montgomery, Waller, Walker, and Wharton), can call the Houston-Galveston Area Agency on Aging at 1-800-437-7396 and those in Harris County can call 1-800-213-8471.

“We caution consumers to first ask their healthcare providers and pharmacies if they accept the plans with the lowest out-of-pocket costs before they change,” said Cooper. “The Area Agency on Aging does not sell plans and rather just teaches Older Texans how to be savvy Medicare Plan shoppers.”

In the National Council on Aging poll 35 percent of persons with Medicare reported being confused by Medicare. With the Baby Boomers beginning to turn 65, an estimated 10,000 persons will be enrolling in Medicare each day. The Area Agency on Aging offers benefits counseling year-round.

The Houston-Galveston Area Agency on Aging can also help those having difficulty affording their prescriptions by helping them apply for Extra Help, a new program for low-income seniors. Seniors with a monthly income below $1,396 for singles and $1,891 for couples should ask about Extra Help.

H-GAC Area Agency on Aging serves older adults and caregivers in the 12 counties surrounding Harris County: Austin, Brazoria, Chambers, Colorado, Fort Bend, Galveston, Liberty, Matagorda, Montgomery, Waller, Walker, and Wharton.

H-GAC (www.h-gac.com) is a voluntary association of local governments and local elected officials from the 13-county Gulf Coast Planning Region, which includes an area of 12,500 square miles and more than 6 million people. H-GAC works to promote efficient and accountable use of local, state, and federal tax dollars; serves as a problem-solving and information forum for local governments; and helps them analyze trends and conditions affecting the region in order to respond to their needs.

For more detailed information contact us at 713-627-3200 or 1-800-437-7396.