NRV Agency on Aging saves Medicare beneficiaries $344,880 during open enrollment
With taxes, the holidays, and other year-end expenses looming, few things are more welcome this time of the year than the chance to save some serious money on necessities. In late 2012, the New River Valley Agency on Aging gave hundreds of people living in the New River Valley a reason to smile.
During the 2012 Medicare Open Enrollment season, which lasts from Oct. 15 through Dec. 7, six volunteers and one staff member of the agency served 855 Medicare beneficiaries and saved many of them a combined total of $344,880 on their 2013 Medicare Part D drug plans. The program that enabled these savings is the Virginia Insurance Counseling and Assistance Program.
Every year around the first of September, the NRV Agency on Aging sends forms out to all clients on its current database, asking that they return the forms with Medicare information about themselves and a list of all prescription drugs that they take on a routine basis. Elizabeth Wray, the agency’s VICAP coordinator and six volunteers, most from the Montgomery County and Radford Retired and Senior Volunteer Program, researched the returned forms and separated them into two groups: those who already have a good plan for next year and those who can save significant money by switching to a new plan.
The first group received letters telling them that they had a good plan for next year. Those in the second group were scheduled for phone calls or personal meetings to offer them information and an opportunity to change to a new drug plan that would save them money in 2013. Hundreds took advantage of their opportunities this year, and the result was a local stimulus that didn’t add a dime to the deficit – $344,880 worth.
“This is a wonderful program for the people of the NRV,” Wray said. ”Not only seniors, but anyone who receives Medicare, Medicaid or disability can use the Virginia Insurance Counseling and Assistance Program. With the help of six dedicated volunteers, we were able to assist all those who turned to us for help during the enrollment period, and the savings point out just how valuable our service can be. We are happy to help anytime, and there is no charge for our service, which is an added bonus for our clients.”
The NRV Agency on Aging VICAP is around, not just during Open Enrollment, but all year to help seniors and the disabled to make decisions ranging from Medicare billing and long-term care to assistance for paying for drugs and preventing Medicare fraud. The VICAP program is especially useful to the growing new-to-Medicare baby boomers who are unsure of their Medicare options.
“This Part D Open Enrollment period was especially successful due to all of the efforts of our staff, volunteers and partners,” said Tina King, executive director of the agency. ”The amount of collective savings to the Medicare beneficiaries who were assisted is astounding! The implications from the savings not only mean a better financial picture for some, but could also mean better health because they can now afford medications and perhaps more nutritious foods. While it might be tempting to keep the same prescription plan each year to avoid having to do anything during open enrollment, the VICAP program has demonstrated that it really can ‘pay’ to compare current plans with plans that will be offered in the coming year. I encourage individuals with Medicare and those who will be enrolling in Medicare, to take advantage of the services offered through our VICAP .”
To access current services or to be added to the Open Enrollment mailing list, call the agency at 980-7720.
– Submitted by Deena Flinchum
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