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Free Medicare insurance counseling available


Last updated 11/1/2018 at 2:35pm

The Pennsylvania Department of Aging is reminding Medicare beneficiaries the annual Medicare open enrollment period began on Monday, Oct. 15, and ends Friday, Dec. 7. Any new coverage selected takes effect January 1, 2019.

During open enrollment, new Medicare beneficiaries can sign up for Medicare Prescription Drug coverage and health plans to compliment Medicare for the first time, and current Medicare beneficiaries can review and make changes to their current coverage so it better meets their needs. In order to help Medicare beneficiaries sort through their options, Pennsylvania offers a free, objective health benefits counseling through the APPRISE Program, which is designed to counsel and encourage Medicare-eligible individuals, their families, and caregivers to make informed healthcare benefit decisions.

“Throughout Pennsylvania, specially trained APPRISE counselors are available to help Medicare beneficiaries understand their Medicare health plan and prescription drug benefit,” said Secretary of Aging Teresa Osborne. “For individuals already on or soon to be on Medicare, open enrollment is an important time to review plans and ensure that they meet their current needs, and the APPRISE Program is available to personally help them make informed healthcare decisions.”

With more than 700 trained APPRISE counselors in the commonwealth, the APPRISE Program provides objective, easy-to-understand information about Medicare Supplement Insurance, Medicare Advantage Plans, and prescription drug plans in order for Medicare beneficiaries to compare the plans and determine what best meets their needs. The APPRISE Program also holds Medicare open enrollment events through the Area Agencies on Aging across the commonwealth.

In 2017, more than 240,000 of the commonwealth’s 2.5 million Medicare beneficiaries were advised by APPRISE counselors.

Pennsylvania’s Medicare beneficiaries also are reminded they received their new Medicare cards beginning in April. The new cards have a unique number replacing the beneficiary’s social security number. The open enrollment period is a good time for Medicare beneficiaries to ensure they received their new card, and to shred the old card; and if they did not receive their new card, they should call 1-800-Medicare.

“Since Medicare is complex and often difficult to understand, many beneficiaries choose to do nothing during open enrollment, but doing nothing actually amounts to permitting the automatic renewal of the coverage the beneficiary already has,” explained Secretary Osborne. “We encourage Pennsylvania’s Medicare beneficiaries to take action and reach out to your local APPRISE counselor if you need help,” said Secretary Osborne.

To learn more about the APPRISE Program or to find an open enrollment event in your area, call 1-800-783-7067 or visit Medicare beneficiaries can also complete their own plan comparisons by using the Medicare plan finder tool at or calling 1-800-MEDICARE.


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