The Medicare Rights Center launched a consumer email channel this fall to provide a new way for New Yorkers and their families to get Medicare answers, with support from the New York State Health Foundation. By expanding individualized counseling to include an email channel in addition to the national helpline, Medicare Rights aims to empower a greater number of older adults, people with disabilities, and their families and caregivers to navigate Medicare.
Counseling consumers by email is more accommodating for some clients with disabilities, gives beneficiaries and caregivers who work during helpline hours a more flexible counseling option, and increases Medicare Rights’ overall capacity to help clients in need of Medicare assistance. New Yorkers with Medicare can now reach out to expert counselors online through any page on Medicare Interactive (www.medicareinteractive.org) and will receive responses to their Medicare questions within one business day.
To date, counselors have answered hundreds of questions on a range of Medicare topics through the new channel. Family members have asked about Medicare’s coverage of home health care for their loved ones, for example. Other questions reflect trends heard on Medicare Rights’ helpline, like how and when to enroll in Medicare for the first time. For complex questions that cannot be answered through email exchanges alone, or for clients who prefer to speak further, counselors schedule a phone call to collect more information and to provide additional counseling.