Counselors offer free help during final week of Medicare enrollment

ROCK ISLAND, Illinois -- Seniors have just one week left to sign up for Medicare or make changes to their current plan. Although there aren't any big differences this year, experts say it's worth double-checking your options.

With nearly 50 coverage choices, the process can be overwhelming for many people.

"With Medicare prescription drug, there are about 30 plans for our zip code, our area. Medicare Advantage, there are about 16 plans available with prescription drug. So, that's the hard part -- there's just so much," said Jen Boedeker, assistant director at Western Illinois Area Agency on Aging.

Western Illinois Area Agency on Aging (WIAAA) is holding open enrollment events on Friday, December 1st, Wednesday, December 6th, and Thursday, December 7th, from 8:30 a.m. until 3 p.m. Trained counselors will be offering free, walk-in sessions for anyone with a Medicare Part D or Medicare Advantage plan.

The open enrollment period ends on December 7, 2017, and after that, people will be stuck with their insurance plan for the next year.

"Doing nothing isn't always the best option, and I think sometimes that's what people miss. They just do nothing and think that's the safer, better, cheaper option, and it's not," said Boedeker.

Boedeker says every plan changes slightly from year to year, with different premiums, deductibles and co-pays.

Plus, with tax reform likely on the horizon, experts say their best advice is to save money anywhere you can.

"There's always going to be changes, not necessarily with just healthcare, but in general. So, if they can save $5,000 on their medication, that's going to help them in other areas," said Boedeker.

Jim and Kay Skutnick drove from Kewanee, Illinois, to meet with a counselor on Thursday. Both were thankful for the guidance through the sometimes- complicated process.

"We had no idea what to do. You know, we looked on the computer, and we were just very confused," said Jim, "This eased my mind."

Western Illinois Area Agency on Aging is located at 729 - 34th Avenue, Rock Island.

If you'd like to meet with a counselor, be sure to bring a photo ID, your Medicare insurance cards, and a list of medications.