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Mary Loftis knows that Medicare-related information can be overwhelming.

Now is the time for people with Medicare to compare their prescription drug plan and Medicare Advantage coverage for 2020.

The open enrollment period for Medicare Part D is underway in Nebraska and runs through Dec. 7.

But the vast amount of information available can be perplexing.

“All the mail you receive and commercials on the television seem to add to the confusion of Medicare Open Enrollment,” said Loftis, a Nebraska Extension educator.

That’s why Loftis, who’s also a SHIIP counselor, is planning open enrollment comparison events in Dodge, Washington and Burt counties.

SHIIP stands for Nebraska Senior Health Insurance Information Program.

“Medicare and Nebraska SHIIP provide free, unbiased counseling,” said Alicia Jones, director of Nebraska’s SHIIP.

There’s never been a better time to find out about Medicare coverage, Jones said in a prepared statement.

Whether individuals have original Medicare or a Medicare Advantage plan, there are several new benefits including:

  • Lower prescription costs.
  • Wellness visits.
  • Preventative care.

Those who take advantage of open enrollment may be able to save money and get improved prescription drug coverage.

Open enrollment is the one time of the year when people with Medicare D plans can learn about the new benefits their plan has to offer and make changes to their coverage.

This year’s enrollment period ensures Medicare has enough time to process changes, so new coverage can begin without interruption on Jan. 1, 2020.

“It’s worth it to take time to review and compare, but you don’t have to do it alone,” Jones said.

One way to gain assistance is via a comparison session.

Loftis has scheduled the following enrollment comparison events:

Dodge County

Nov. 5

  • – Hooper Senior Center, 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Nov. 6-8

  • – Dodge County Extension Office, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. each of those days.

For appointments, call the Nebraska Extension in Dodge County at 402-727-2775.

Washington County

Nov. 19-21

  • – Nebraska Extension office in Blair, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

For an appointment in Blair, call 402-426-9455.

Burt County

  • Call the Nebraska Extension in Burt County for an appointment in Craig, Oakland, Lyons, Decatur or Tekamah with dates too numerous to list, Loftis said. The number for the Extension office in Burt County is 402-374-2929.

Area residents also may call the SHIIP toll-free at 800-234-7119 to make an appointment in another area.

Loftis encourages area residents to attend one of the sessions.

“Don’t just throw up your hands and say, ‘I give up!’ Make sure you have someone who is looking out only for your needs,” Loftis said. “Compare your Medicare drug and/or health coverages to make sure you have the coverage you need for the least cost.”

Loftis told the Tribune how SHIIP can help.

“Nebraska SHIIP can help you look at all the options, because we want the best for you and never receive any compensation from drug or insurance plans for comparing or enrolling anyone,” she said.

Loftis also encourages area residents not to wait until the last minute.

“Anyone may attend any of the comparison sessions regardless of where you live,” she said.

Jones said those seeking assistance also have these options:

  • Visit http://www.medicare.gov/find-a-plan to compare your current coverage with all of the available options in your area, and enroll in a new plan if you decide to make a change.
  • Call 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227) 24 hours a day, seven days a week to find out more about coverage options. TTY users should call 1-877-486-2048.

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News Editor

Tammy Real-McKeighan is news editor of the Fremont Tribune. She covers news, features, religion stories and writes the weekly faith-based, Spiritual Spinach column.

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