Free Medicare workshops scheduled in county

By Terri Flagg -

An attendee of a SHIIP-hosted medicare workshop compares plans.

Terri Flagg | The News

A group of local experts will lead two free workshops on Medicare enrollment — one on Friday in Pilot Mountain, and the other in Elkin on Nov. 18.

The classes, “Unlocking the Mystery of Medicare,” are run through the Surry Center of the N.C. Cooperative Extension Office and the Seniors’ Health Insurance Information Program (SHIIP).

“Many Medicare beneficiaries assume that the plan they are in this year will also work for them in the coming year and that is not always the case,” N.C. Insurance Commissioner Wayne Goodwin said in a statement.

Open enrollment runs from Oct. 15 to Dec. 7 for individuals with Medicare, due to age or disability, to find a new plan or make changes to their Medicare Advantage or Medicare Prescription Drug Plans.

“Trying to help individuals figure out which plan is going to best meet their needs, at the least expensive prices, that’s our goal,” said Carmen Long, extension agent and SHIIP volunteer.

“We have 22 different plans in North Carolina that people can select from,” she said. “That’s a lot of information to go through. We’re able to work with individuals and help them decide which plan might be best for them. It calms a lot of the frustration and feeling overwhelmed.”

The scheduled workshops are staffed with several SHIIP volunteers who provide a variety of experience to help those new to Medicare.

“There are several changes in formularies this year, as far as which prescription drugs they are covering and which they are not. And then the deductible has gone up, the maximum deductible, as much as $400, which isn’t always a good thing for people,” said Long, who mentioned a few other potential pitfalls.

“As far as Medicare Advantage,” she said, “they only have six plans in Surry County that are available. Some of those plans offer prescription drug coverage, and some don’t. We want to make sure people get a plan that does have drug coverage.”

Friday’s class will be held at 10 a.m. to noon at the Pilot Center of Surry Community College, and the Nov. 18 class will be held from 10 a.m. to noon at the Elkin Center of Surry Community College.

“It’s free, nothing is sold, and they’ll even have a chance of winning prizes,” said Long.

A flyer for the event also advertised free food, fun, fellowship and gifts for everyone.

To register, please call 336-401-8025.

An attendee of a SHIIP-hosted medicare workshop compares plans. attendee of a SHIIP-hosted medicare workshop compares plans. Terri Flagg | The News

By Terri Flagg

Reach Terri Flagg at 415-4734.

Reach Terri Flagg at 415-4734.

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