by Joe Baker, Medicare Rights Center staff
On October 15, open enrollment begins for Medicare recipients. This can be a very confusing time. You can get help from The Medicare Rights Center, a national, nonprofit consumer service organization. This organization works to ensure access to affordable health care for older adults and people with disabilities through counseling and advocacy, educational programs and public policy initiatives. The Center works tirelessly to ensure access to affordable health care for older adults and people with disabilities through its counseling and advocacy, educational programs, and public policy initiatives. Medicare Rights is the largest and most reliable independent source of Medicare information and assistance in the United States.
Medicare Rights has partnered with the American Foundation for the Blind (AFB) to make Medicare Interactive, its free online resource packed with hundreds of answers to Medicare questions, accessible directly from the AFB’s VisionAware website. Medicare Interactive answers questions related to vision loss, including information on Medicare coverage of eye care services like glaucoma screenings – of which eighty percent is covered annually for people who are at high-risk for glaucoma – and eligibility for Medicare due to disability.
National Consumer Helpline
People with vision loss can also call the Medicare Rights’ National Consumer Helpline at 1-800-333-4114. One of its dedicated staff members or volunteers will counsel them about their Medicare coverage over the phone.
Example of Use of Medicare Rights Helpline by Person With Vision Loss
Ms. P, who is legally blind, called the Medicare Rights helpline at 800-333-4114 because she needed assistance affording her prescription medications when her Medicare Part D (prescription drug coverage) plan’s monthly premium increased dramatically. A Medicare Rights counselor also determined that her annual drug costs would exceed $5,000 on her current plan. The counselor guided Ms. P through selecting a new Part D plan, and also helped her enroll in New York’s income-based program that helps pay eligible individuals’ drug costs. Like New York, many states have a State Pharmaceutical Assistance Program to help people pay for their medications.
Ms. P is one of the thousands of people Medicare Rights assists on its helpline each year. Medicare Rights is dedicated to helping people with vision loss, and all people who are eligible for Medicare, navigate the complex world of health insurance. Be sure to check out their article on When Does Medicare Cover Eye Care.. Also, for more information, please call 1-800-333-4114 or go to the Medicare Rights website.