Editor’s Note: This is the latest installment of a series of regular columns designed to report to the senior citizens of Athens County items of interest from the Athens County Council on Aging (ACCOA).

For those persons already on Medicare, open enrollment for Medicare related health insurance programs runs this year from Oct. 15 through Dec. 7. The state of Ohio offers four Medicare Savings Programs in addition to Medicaid to help those with low incomes. To qualify for one of these programs, one must meet certain income and asset limits.

Qualified Medicare Beneficiary (QMB) serves as a free Medicare supplement policy. It pays all deductibles and coinsurance that Medicare does not pay, plus the Medicare Part B monthly premium. This is guaranteed for all who apply and are qualified.

Specified Low Income Medicare Beneficiary (SLMB) pays the Medicare Part B monthly premium, plus retroactive Part B premium amounts for each of the past three months. This is guaranteed for all who apply and are qualified.

Qualified Individual (QI) pays for the Medicare Part B premium. There is a limit on the number of persons who can receive this benefit.

Qualified Disabled and Working Individuals (QDWI) helps to pay the Part A premium for a person who is disabled and no longer entitled to free Part A solely because of being able to return to work.

In addition to programs to help with Medicare Part A or Part B, there is also a program to help with Medicare Part D, Medicare’s comprehensive prescription drug coverage plan. As with the programs described above, the Extra Help or Low-Income Subsidy (LIS) program has income and asset eligibility requirements.

For all persons on Medicare, it is important, each year, to review your Part D plan of choice. As plans change from year to year, look to see which pharmacies a plan accepts and what a plan will pay for the prescriptions you need. Perhaps your current plan has changed, and a different plan will be better for you for the coming year.

Ohio Senior Health Insurance Information Program (OSHIIP) is a service provided by the Ohio Department of Insurance to provide free, objective health insurance information and one-on-one counseling to people covered by Medicare and their caregivers. It can be reached at 1-800-686-1578 or oshiipmail@insurance.ohio.gov. Also OSHIIP has a volunteer in each county for those seeking help with understanding the available programs and completing applications. Betty Hixenbaugh is the Athens County volunteer. She has an office with the United Seniors of Athens County in the Community Center at 701 E. State St. in Athens.

She is in the Athens office on most days, Monday through Friday. She sometimes schedules appointments at other locations. On Nov. 18, she will be at the Coolville library from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. She can be reached at 740-594-3535. Please call if you want an appointment to meet with her.

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