Free local help is available for those with Medicare and Marketplace questions

Fran Brownell
Pratt Tribune
Health insurance marketplace is now open. Medicare Open Enrollment period, which began October 15, continues through December 7.

Help for Pratt area senior citizens is available during the fall Medicare Open Enrollment period, which began October 15 and continues through December 7, according to Pratt Regional Medical Center Community Relations Director Andie Dean.

“The health insurance landscape can be confusing, but free local help is available and hundreds of area residents get their Medicare and Marketplace questions answered by Certified Application Coordinator Lisa Hart,” Dean said.

Hart has office space at the Hope Center, 314 South Main Street.

“If you are 65 years or older, or on Medicare Disability, now is the time to review your part D, prescription drug plan,” Dean said. “Based on current number client numbers, the average person is saving about $500.00 a year by switching plans.”

Medicare Part D plans are only available through private insurance companies and the cost, pharmacy network, and drug formulary can vary from plan to plan and year to year.

Dean said that as part of the review she provides, Hart will make a comparison between current medications amongst 26 different standalone Part D plans to find the best option.

“With unprecedented unemployment during this public health and economic crisis – individuals needing health insurance coverage can enroll in comprehensive, affordable coverage on the Marketplace before time runs out,” Dean said.

“Unfortunately, a bevy of ‘junk insurance’ products are available due to loosened regulations, and they pose huge financial risks to consumers,” Hart said. “These products aren’t required to comply with Affordable Care Act regulations, which means they can deny coverage to consumers with pre-existing conditions, charge consumers more based on their gender, reject claims altogether for health care services related to a pre-existing condition, and impose annual coverage limits.”

Dean said the Health Insurance Marketplace is for people who don’t have health coverage through a job, Medicare, KanCare, the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP), or another source that provides qualifying health coverage.

Coverage starts on January 1, 2021.

“If you qualify, the Marketplace will help you get the coverage you need,” Dean said.

“The ways in which we interact with people and deliver resources has been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, but services remain available,” Dean said. “We have developed a system to provide safe, creative, and socially distanced ways to continue serving you during the COVID-19 pandemic.” 

Hart may be reached at the Hope Center to schedule a phone, virtual or in-person appointment, phone 620-933-2166.