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COLUMN: Getting ready for open enrollment

William C. Lane, Ph.D., Sentinel columnist
Posted 11/8/22

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has announced the new Medicare Part B premiums for 2023.

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COLUMN: Getting ready for open enrollment


The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has announced the new Medicare Part B premiums for 2023.

In a somewhat unusual move, the standard monthly Part B premium will drop from $170.10 to $164.90, a decrease of $5.20. The annual deductible for all Medicare Part B beneficiaries has been set at $226 for 2023, a decrease of $7. These decreases are set for Original Medicare, but should also be applied to your Medicare Advantage plan premiums. Many Advantage plans may be making additional decreases this year as this insurance market has become highly competitive.

Social Security cost of living will increase in 2023. According to the New York Times and other news outlets, all Social Security recipients will receive a cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) in the amount of 8.7 percent for 2023. This means that the average beneficiary will receive an increase of about $140 per month and represents the largest COLA increase since 1981.

Medicare Open Enrollment: The Fall Medicare Open Enrollment period is now in full swing. This year Open Enrollment began on Wednesday, Oct. 15 and runs through Saturday, Dec. 7. Any changes you make to your Medicare coverage during this period will take effect on Jan. 1, 2023. Beyond HIICAP counseling, there are a number of resources available to assist readers in making informed decisions about their choices.

These include:

Medicare and You: Prior to the start of Open Enrollment, either by an e-mail link or through the mail (I still prefer to receive the published booklet), all beneficiaries receive a copy of the publication Medicare and You.

If you are new to Medicare, I always recommend that you read this publication once from cover to cover. After that you can check the publication for changes or look for answers to specific questions. In many cases you can use this publication to avoid searching a website or making a phone call. Here are some tips for using the publication.

First, the inside cover page will always direct you to any of the major changes from the previous year. Section two is important as it allows you to find out if Medicare covers a test, item or service that you need is covered. Preventive services are marked with the symbol of an apple. These are services for which you generally pay nothing if your provider accepts Medicare assignment (the standard amount Medicare pays).

Finally, Section 11 provides complete information about all the Medicare Advantage and other Health Plans available in New York state outside of New York City. The first column of the chart tells you if the plan is available in your area. In addition to all the cost and coverage information, you are also provided with a members’ rating of each plan provider. This can be useful in making your choice between two otherwise identical plans.

Medicare Plan Finder: Medicare Plan Finder is the tool that counselors use and it is one that beneficiaries can also access. You will first need to go to and create a MyMedicare account. This is very easy and takes only a few minutes. Once you have an account you can begin to use the Medicare Plan Finder.

In response to numerous complaints last year, Plan Finder has again been redesigned. With Plan Finder you can create a new or access an existing list of the drugs you take, compare you current Part D drug plan with others as well as see the prices based on any extra help you get with your drug costs. You can also compare the cost and benefits of different Medicare Advantage Plans.

Other Resources: In addition to HIICAP, there are at least two other sources of unbiased counseling information. These include:

1-800-Medicare (1-800-633-4227): Medicare counselors are available to help you choose a plan, review your coverage, understand costs and make informed decisions or answer a question. You can also call this number anytime during the year to find out about extra help in paying for drug coverage or file a complaint. With the exception of Federal holidays, counselors are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

New York State Wide Senior Action Council: State Wide has certified counselors providing free personalized, confidential, unbiased information about Medicare options including prescription drug plans. You can reach a counselor by calling 1-800-333-4374 or by sending an email to

The Oneida County HIICAP Office is continuing to provide counseling services and in-person scheduling by phone as they have throughout the pandemic. If you would like to do a HIICAP counseling session over the phone or schedule an appointment at one of the two in-person locations call 315-798-5456 and select No. 2 from the choice list. In most cases you will be asked to leave your contact information on a voice mail and a staff member will return your call within 72 hours (three business days). Counselors are available at the following locations:

North Utica Senior Citizens Center, 50 Riverside Drive, Utica. Hours have been expanded at this site. Appointments will now be accepted on Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sessions are expected to run 45 minutes. Call the HIICAP office at 315-798-5456, selecting option 2 to schedule an appointment.

Copper City Community Connection, 305 E. Locust St., Rome will offer counseling session from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Thursday only. The HIICAP program will also be scheduling at Copper City.

Contacting HIICAP Programs in Other Counties: Here is the contact information for HIICAP programs in several counties that border Oneida County. To reach the Madison County HIICAP program call 315-697-5700 and ask to speak to a HIICAP counselor. For Herkimer County, call Catholic Charities of Herkimer County at 315-894-9917. For Lewis County call 315-376-5013 and select No. 2 from the choice list.

Dr. William Lane is the owner of William Lane Associates, a gerontological consulting firm located in Homer, N.Y. He writes a monthly column on HIICAP related issues for the Office for the Aging. Dr. Lane does not sell insurance, work for any insurance company or recommend any insurance products.


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