Medicare open enrollment begins, plan costs expected to rise

It's a period of a few months that could save people hundreds of dollars, but not everyone takes advantage. Open enrollment for Medicare coverage starts on Saturday, October 15th, 2016, running through December 7th, 2016, and there is a local agency looking to help save people money.

Volunteers with the Western Illinois Area Agency on Aging are standing by ready to help as many people as possible during the open enrollment period, but they're hoping more people take advantage of their free advice.

Both prescription medication plans and the average co-pays are expected to go higher this year, which is why groups like WIAAA are offering their time to get people information that will hopefully save them money. Last year, 140 people set up an appointment with one of their Medicare experts, and 38 people ended up changing their plans, saving a total of $81,420.

"People saved money from $100 all the way to $20,000. That $20,000 savings is an extreme situation, but it happens. Plans change, and their coverage, pharmacies they work with and their co-pays," Jennifer Boedeker with the Western Illinois Area Agency on Aging said.

Boedeker says they want to help more people this year, so that they're not stuck in a plan that's costing them money.

"If their co-pays are going up higher, or their premiums are going higher, or if they can't go to the pharmacy they want to, they're in that plan for the rest of the year. So, it's really important for them to come in and we can compare the plan that they're currently in for next year versus other plans," Boedeker said.

By law, if a person's Medicare plan changes, they'll receive a big booklet about it in the mail. That's where Boedeker says most of their questions come from, trying to sift through all the material. She says the volunteers at WIAAA are trained to do just that, and hopefully they can save people money along the way.

Appointments with the Western Illinois Area Agency on Aging can be made over the phone at (309) 793-6800. Each meeting is free and will be available Monday through Friday during the open enrollment period.