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Medicare beneficiaries now reviewing their 2019 health and prescription drug plan options can get free help from benefits counselors with the Harris County Area Agency on Aging (AAA), a division of the Houston Health Department.

Medicare open enrollment begins Oct. 15 and runs through Dec. 7. It is a period for beneficiaries to compare all their Medicare options and make changes to their health or prescription drug coverage for the following year.

“Seniors and people with disabilities enrolled in Medicare quite often need advice on how to better judge the many health care options available to them,” said Rose Ortega, a benefits counselor with AAA. “They can feel overwhelmed but the advice our benefits counselors provide helps them find the plans that best meet their health needs.”

Open enrollment for most beneficiaries may be the only time they can make changes to their Medicare coverage. They can:

  • Change from original Medicare to a Medicare Advantage Plan or vice versa.
  • Switch from one Medicare Advantage Plan to another.
  • Switch from one Medicare Advantage Plan without drug coverage to another one with drug coverage or vice versa.
  • Join or drop a Medicare Drug Plan.
  • Switch from one Medicare Drug Plan to another one.

Benefits counselors staffing AAA’s call center do not recommend or endorse any specific insurance product, insurance company or plan. They provide information and advice so beneficiaries can make their own decisions.

People can enroll in Medicare if they are 65 or older, under 65 and have a disability or have either end-stage renal disease or ALS, also called Lou Gehrig’s disease.

Medicare beneficiaries or their legal representatives can obtain benefits counseling or more information by calling 832-393-4301.