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Free medicare checkup event in Sylvania Oct. 24

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SYLVANIA, OH (Toledo News Now) – A free "Medicare Checkup" event is being held at the Sylvania Senior Center Oct. 24.

Ohio Lieutenant Governor and Department of Insurance Director, Mary Taylor, announced the department's Ohio Senior Health Insurance Information Program is holding a free "Medicare Checkup" event Oct. 24 at 1 p.m. at the Sylvania Senior Center, located at 7140 Sylvania Ave. The event coincides with Medicare's Oct. 15 to Dec. 7 annual enrollment period. The session is intended to help people review changes to Medicare and determine their best coverage option for 2013.

OSHIIP recently celebrated its 20th anniversary as Medicare's designated educational program in Ohio for beneficiaries, family members and health care professionals.

"Determining the appropriate Medicare coverage should be done with the help of a family member or a knowledgeable and trusted advisor, such as a representative from our OSHIIP program," Taylor said. "This should be a careful, deliberate process so you secure a plan that best meets your health care needs and budget."

In addition to statewide check-up events, people can call OSHIIP at 1-800-686-1578 with questions and for enrollment assistance. A special department Medicare checkup and open enrollment toolkit, which includes a list of plans to be announced, financial assistance information, and an events schedule, is available at www.insurance.ohio.gov. People interested can also follow OSHIIP on Facebook at www.facebook.com/OSHIIP.

During annual enrollment, beneficiaries can select one of several health coverage options: 

-Original Medicare paired with a stand-alone Part D Prescription Drug Plan and perhaps a Medicare Supplement Plan.

-A Medicare Advantage Plan, which provides comprehensive health benefits, including drug coverage.

-Determine if their existing coverage will meet their health insurance needs for the upcoming year. 

When reviewing plan options, Taylor advises to consider the convenience of being able to use pharmacies near where work or home, take into account all out-of-pocket expenses, and ensure a plan's covered drug list includes current prescriptions.  

At the events, beneficiaries can learn about recent changes to Medicare, such as the new Medicare deductibles, co-pay, and coinsurance amounts; Medicare Advantage and Part D plan options for 2013, and financial assistance programs.

Attendees should bring their prescription drugs list with dosages and preferred pharmacy, plus information on retirement coverage, Veteran's Administration or other medical care benefits they receive.  

While the vast majority of insurance agents are upstanding professionals, Taylor asks Ohioans to watch for predatory sales practices during annual enrollment. Insurance agents are prohibited from using high-pressure sales tactics, conducting door-to-door sales for Medicare Advantage plans, and representing themselves as being from Medicare. People who pose to be agents can also use similar tactics. Anyone who feels victimized, should get as much information as possible and call the department's fraud and enforcement hotline at 1-800-686-1527.

Those with Medicare questions and in need of enrollment assistance, including financial assistance, can call OSHIIP at 1-800-686-1578, Monday through Friday, 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., or Medicare at 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227), 24/7. Information is also available at www.medicare.gov.

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