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Walgreens offering Medicare health insurance plan reviews

By Maryalene LaPonsie on November 6th, 2013

Open enrollment for Medicare has begun, and beneficiaries throughout the country are undoubtedly faced with mailings and brochures from health insurance companies hoping to woo seniors to their plans.

For those overwhelmed with their choices, Walgreens is offering free plan reviews through their drug stores. Pharmacists at local stores will be available on either a walk-in basis or by appointment to help seniors and other beneficiaries compare their choices and select the best plan for their prescription drug needs.

Helping make sense of health insurance plans

According to Walgreens, Medicare beneficiaries will be able to get the following information from local stores.

  • Medicare Part D resources
  • Free, personalized plan comparison reports
  • Latest news regarding Medicare

"Many Medicare beneficiaries don't fully understand certain aspects of their health plan, including cost savings options," said Suzanne Hansen, Walgreens group vice president of pharmacy operations, in a written statement. "We anticipate an even greater need to help educate our customers this year, given the changes that are taking place across the health care landscape."

Walgreens works with four national Part D sponsors as part of the Medicare preferred pharmacy network. UnitedHealthcare, Humana, Coventry Health Care and WellCare are the health insurance companies and benefit providers partnering with Walgreens.

Overlap with health reform open enrollment

Helping seniors navigate the Medicare open enrollment period may be particularly important this year since it overlaps with an open enrollment period mandated by health reform.

The health reform open enrollment period runs from Oct. 1, 2013 to March 31, 2014 and allows individuals to purchase health insurance plans through online marketplaces. Also known as exchanges, these marketplaces are intended to be a portal to affordable health insurance for families earning between 100-400 percent of the federal poverty limit.

However, the Medicare open enrollment period only runs from Oct. 15 to Dec. 7 of this year. During that time, beneficiaries can switch between original Medicare (administered by the government) and Medicare Advantage (plans offered by health insurance companies). Beneficiaries can also change their Part D prescription drug coverage during the open enrollment period.

Medicare beneficiaries should be careful to ensure they are only reviewing health insurance quotes for Medicare plans. If you or someone you know receives Medicare benefits and is confused about open enrollment options, be sure to seek out help -- whether that be from a finance professional, a senior center or your neighborhood Walgreens store.

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