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Medicare plan assistance this week

Pike County residents receiving Medicare benefits may have some big decisions to face with their plans in the coming year.

That’s why the State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP), sponsored by the South Central Alabama Development Commission Area Agency on Aging, will be in Pike County next week to help residents find the plan that’s right for them.

“We do this every year,” said Clayton Davis, coordinator with SHIP. “This year there’s a lot more interest because Medicare for 2010 has drastically changed.”

Individuals will be in Troy to assist from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday at the Colley Senior Complex and in Brundidge Wednesday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Robert Barr Senior Center.

Davis said people will be on hand to discuss the different options residents can choose in their Medicare plans for 2010.

And, the service will be free to the county’s residents.

Davis said Medicare has undergone several changes, making some plans that used to be the most beneficial, the worst to be enrolled in.

“Some plans are dropping certain drugs. Prices are up,” Davis said. “And seniors and disabled (those eligible for Medicare benefits) really have to run through a computer system to find the best plan for them.”

Residents will have open enrollment options from Nov. 15 to Dec. 31, where Medicare beneficiaries can enroll in whatever medical and prescription drug plans they choose.

Those eligible for Medicare whose household incomes are below $1,374 monthly, with one per household, or $1,841 monthly, with two per household, may be eligible for extra help that could greatly reduce the cost of health care coverage, according to information released by Davis.

Davis said the SHIP employees will not be looking to make commission off the plans, but will simply help residents determine what the best options are for them.

For those who can’t attend one of the local events, they can receive free help by calling 334-671-3990 or 1-888-671-5246.