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As Medicare Enrollment Begins, City Encourages Older Brooklynites to Use Free Counseling Program

HIICAP is a completely free, statewide Medicare counseling program that NYSOFA says can help beneficiaries to navigate their options during open enrollment
Brooklyn Seniors dance in a Zumba Class at the Senior Alliance Center in Manhattan Beach. Photo: Christopher Edwards for BK Reader.

With Medicare open enrollment beginning soon, the New York State Office for the Aging is recommending that older New Yorkers take advantage of the Health Insurance Information, Counseling and Assistance Program that is available to them.

HIICAP, according to the NYSOFA, is a completely free, statewide Medicare counseling program that can help beneficiaries to navigate their options during open enrollment, as well as all year round.

Open enrollment for Medicare starts on Oct. 15, 2022, and will run through Dec. 7, 2022. During this time period, beneficiaries are able to make changes to their health plans, prescription drug coverage, and more.

NYSOFA Director Greg Olsen says that, because the health needs of beneficiaries can change yearly, he encourages beneficiaries to utilize the free counseling program to ensure that they are making the best choices for themselves and their health.

"Your insurance coverage changes from year to year. So do your individual needs as a Medicare beneficiary, such as newly prescribed prescription drugs, having different physicians who may not be in a plan’s network, or changes in your financial status that might make you eligible for assistance to cover out-of-pocket costs," said Olsen.

"HIICAP counselors are a trusted resource to review your current needs and help you make informed decisions, especially at this critical time during open enrollment. Every beneficiary should take this opportunity to fine-tune their needs."

Among the ways that HIICAP can assist beneficiaries during open enrollment includes explaining prescription drug benefits, helping to find ways of paying for medications or medical equipment, explaining Medicare rules and medical bills, and more, according to NYSOFA.

Facebook Livestream

On Oct. 27, at 1:00pm, NYSOFA will have a Facebook Livestream that will answer questions and cover everything people should know about Medicare open enrollment, along with HIICAP.

The live video meeting will feature a variety of guests who are experts in a number of topics of interest to older adults.

New Yorkers can also watch the Livestream on the NYSOFA Facebook page.

Medicare Fraud Awareness

According to NYSOFA, Medicare experts report an increased risk of fraud during open-enrollment periods.

In response to this, the Medicare Rights Center has offered various warnings and tips to avoid being a victim of fraud.

The Medicare Rights Center says that plans are allowed to communicate through mail or email, but are not allowed to call or pay people a visit without permission.

The organization says to be wary of people who may pressure you about making changes to your plan, claim to be representatives of Medicare, or make attempts to notify you about potentially losing benefits unless you change to a particular plan.

The Medicare Rights Center says that any beneficiaries who believe they are a victim of fraud or identity theft should contact Medicare.

For more information on how to pinpoint and avoid Medicare fraud or abuse, click here.