Medicare changes discussed

Open enrollment closing soon; 'doughnut hole' addressed

Time is running out if you're looking to change your Medicare coverage and the dreaded \doughnut hole could get frosted over in the future.

The open enrollment period for Medicare, which ends Dec. 31, along with questions about coverage were discussed at the Scotia-Glenville Senior Center on Friday, Dec. 10. The talk was lead by Region II Director for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Dr. Jamie Torres. Also in attendance were Representative Paul Tonko, D-Amsterdam, and Chairwoman of the Schenectady County Legislature Susan Savage, D-Niskayuna.

"This is the time that you can check your plan," said Torres. "This is the time to find out if your plan still meets your requirements and your needs."

He encouraged people to make the open enrollment period a "family affair" to discuss what options would be the best. If someone's medication has changed or he or she has developed a new disease, he said, there might be a plan to better suit those needs.

Seniors in attendance also wanted to know a little more about the elusive "doughnut hole," a gap in prescription medication coverage, that lawmakers have made steps to address.

Seniors who reach the doughnut hole, which is the point where Medicare coverage has reached a cap, will receive a $250 check, and beginning in January, seniors will be able to buy brand-name medication at 50 percent off while in the coverage gap.

"Slowly they will start closing [the doughnut hole] by having discounted medication, and that is how it will be closed in the next 10 years," said Torres.

Torres also warned seniors about scams that involve being contacted to provide information to receive their check because if someone reaches the doughnut hole, the check will be mailed to them automatically.

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