Due to the continued efforts to stop the spread of COVID-19, the Medicare and Medicaid Assistance Program (MMAP) of CareWell Services Southwest will not offer face-to-face benefits counseling initially during open enrollment. The MMAP program provides education and benefits counseling to empower Michigan’s older adults, individuals with disabilities, and caregivers to make informed health benefit decisions. 

The 2021 Open Enrollment Period for Medicare runs from October 15 through December 7, 2020. During this period, adults seeking coverage through Medicare can enroll or adjust their benefits options.

In past years, in-person benefits counseling has been available at five Calhoun County-area MMAP sites including the Kool Family Community Center in Battle Creek, Forks Senior Center and Albion Health Care Alliance in Albion, and Heritage Commons Senior Enrichment Center and Calhoun County Senior Services in Marshall. 

“Over the last several weeks, we have seen a spike in the number of cases in Calhoun County. These cases are community spread and seem to be impacted by gatherings of groups of people,” said CareWell Services’ CEO Karla Fales. “Because seniors are at highest risk to become seriously ill or die from COVID-19, we are especially concerned about their potential exposure.” 

CareWell Services continues to consult with officials from the public health department to determine the rate of infection and trends related to the virus in our county. 

“I’m still hopeful that as we each take measures to slow the spread that the cases will begin to trend downward and we can provide face-to-face counseling very soon,” said MMAP Program Manager Lynn Moss. 

Until in-person counseling resumes, counselors are available to work with beneficiaries over the phone. Seniors can receive counseling over the phone by calling 1-800-803-7174. 

Starting on October 1, beneficiaries or those new to Medicare can review Medicare health plans and drug plans by using the Medicare Plan Finder at www.medicare.gov/plan-compare. Those with a Medicare Number can log in or create an account to put together or access a list of medications and compare Medicare plans.

CareWell Services anticipates that face-to-face appointments will be available before the end of open enrollment, especially if everyone continues to practice preventive measures such as staying home as much as possible, washing hands and cleaning frequently, remaining socially distance, avoiding indoor and outdoor gatherings with non-household members, and wearing a mask whenever in public or with non-household members. 

“This continues to be a group effort,” said Fales, “and for our seniors, it is even more critical that we all do what we can to contribute.”

Updates on the status of face-to-face counseling for MMAP during Open Enrollment is available by calling CareWell Services at (269)966-2450, visiting their website at carewellservices.com or following @carewellservicessw on Facebook.

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