The Examiner

W’chester Libraries Help Seniors Receive Medicare Enrollment Info

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The Next Demystifying Medicare seminar is this Saturday at the Hendrick Hudson Free Library in Montrose.
The Next Demystifying Medicare seminar is this Saturday at the Hendrick Hudson Free Library in Montrose.

Decisions regarding Medicare and health care coverage for seniors can be a daunting challenge. Complex rules and myriad choices could overwhelm even the most conscientious and studious citizen.

Fortunately in Westchester, there is a free resource where people can turn for help.

Westchester Seniors Out Speaking (WSOS), a volunteer group of the Westchester Library System, offers several kinds of programs to help people understand how their health insurance works.

Once again this fall, WSOS has been hosting a series of workshops called Demystifying Medicare, roughly two-and-a-half hour sessions throughout the county that coincide with the 2016 Medicare Open Enrollment period, Oct. 15 through Dec. 7, when people can make changes to healthcare coverage. The next session is on Saturday, Oct. 22 at the Hendrick Hudson Free Library in Montrose from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.

The seminars tackle topics such as original Medicare, Medicare Advantage, prescription drug plans (Medicare Part D), supplemental coverage plans and various cost-saving programs such as EPIC.

For individual counseling to address questions, WSOS volunteers also run Senior Benefits Information Centers at 10 different libraries across the county, typically once a week, including at the Mount Kisco Public Library, on Wednesdays from 10:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.

Julie Woodward, who leads the Demystifying Medicare seminars, said that for most seniors there is no need to act during the Medicare enrollment period. But some may be dissatisfied with their coverage, or if there has been a change in their medical situation that cannot be addressed during a special enrollment period.

Seniors who are prepared to retire or who are contemplating retirement may also need help understanding the basics of Medicare and how it interacts with other healthcare insurance, particularly if they don’t have access to a union or retiree plan from their employer, Woodward said.

If either or both spouses are working and still have coverage through an employer plan, it is important to understand how the plan works with Medicare when one of them turns 65. WSOS strongly recommends people to consult with their human resources department on whether to enroll in Part B, as in some cases it may not be necessary.

“Another reason they may seek counseling is because they don’t understand why the costs have jumped higher all of a sudden, which sometimes is a billing error because of coding,” Woodward said.

She urges seniors to get reliable information on health plans through the Senior Benefits Information Center counselors and websites such as and avoid relying solely on advertisements, which can be misleading if you don’t fully understand how Medicare is delivered.

“If you’re not covering yourself with the deductibles and the 20 percent that Medicare doesn’t pay for, you will need that supplement,” Woodward said. “Or you can enroll in an Advantage Plan, which delivers Parts A, B, and D all in one.”

Additional Demystifying Medicare seminars are scheduled for Oct. 27 at the Harrison Public Library, Oct. 29 at the Scarsdale Public Library; Nov. 7 at the Town of Pelham Public Library; and Nov. 19 at the Croton-on-Hudson Municipal Building. Walk-ins are welcome, but pre-registration is requested by calling 914-231-3236.

You can contact WSOS and the Senior Benefits Information Centers for counseling at 914-231-3260 or e-mail them at

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