Medicare enrollment available until Dec. 7

The open enrollment period for persons, who wish to receive Medicare, or are currently participating, is now available. Enrollees can also choose a new plan, or opt to remain in their current one, according to state officials.

Ravae Graham, a spokesperson for the Georgia Department of Human Services, said eligible residents will have until Dec. 7, to enroll.

The Department of Human Services' Division of Aging Services will offer free one-on-one assistance and community presentations for residents to make decisions about Medicare health and prescription drug planning, she said.

"Choosing the right Medicare options for your unique health-care needs, preferences and finances takes time and research," added Dr. James Bulot, director of the Division of Aging Services. "Fortunately, the GeorgiaCares program offers help from unbiased trained specialists."

GeorgiaCares is a private-public partnership administered by the division, according to the DHS web site –– http://dhs.georgia.gov. It's a volunteer program that delivers unbiased information to Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries –– as well as caregivers –– about related health-insurance issues and concerns.

The GeorgiaCares State Health Insurance Assistance Program, said Graham, provides personalized help through a toll-free line, at 1-866-552-4464. Consumers can also compare plans by visiting, www.medicare.gov, or contacting operators at 1-800-MEDICARE.

"People with Medicare can create personalized coverage solutions from options such as Original Medicare, ‘Part D' prescription drug plans, and comprehensive ‘Part C' Medicare Advantage plans," said Graham. "Plan details may change, so beneficiaries should carefully review their current coverage annually."

Counselors of the State Health Insurance Assistance Program also help with applications for the Extra Help program of the U.S. Social Security Administration, which covers costs in relation to Medicare premiums, deductibles and co-payments for those financially eligible, she said.

Applications are available at www.socialsecurity.gov/prescriptionhelp, or by calling the Social Security hotline at 1-800-772-1213, or by teletypewriters at 1-800-325-0778.

For local assistance, people can contact the Atlanta Regional Commission's AgeWise Connection at (404) 463-3333, or visit, www.agewiseconnection.com, according to the DHS web site.

The Atlanta Regional Commission serves residents in several metro-Atlanta communities, including Clayton and Henry counties.