Local
1:10 pm
Thu October 13, 2011

U.S. Health Chief Talks Medicare in Hershey

The country's top health official spoke to senior citizens in Hershey on Wednesday about enrolling in Medicare.

U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius spoke to about fifty seniors to kick off open season for choosing Medicare coverage.

She also touted the benefits of President Obama's Affordable Care Act; she said it provided new ways to prevent and go after Medicare fraud.

"Last year, those efforts alone returned four billion dollars to the Medicare trust fund," said Sebelius.

The enrollment period begins Saturday, October 15 and ends December 7. That's earlier than in past years, but the timespan is longer.

During open enrollment, people who have aged into Medicare can enroll and pick their health care plan. People who are already enrolled can use the period to switch their coverage plan.

Sebelius said Medicare options have never been better than this year.

"Premiums are not going up at all this year," said Sebelius. "And, in fact, the coverage is getting better because those of you who might've hit the so-called 'donut hole,' the gap in prescription drug coverage, there will be an even more substantial discount this year for drugs at the donut hole coverage."

Ken Booth of Hummelstown gets his Medicare through his union.

He heard Sebelius' speech, and said he's still skeptical the government can cover the program's costs.

"More baby boomers now are joining the ranks of senior citizens," said Booth. "And it's almost impossible to tell me that it's cheaper to take care of more people than it is less."

Sebelius said 48 million Americans use Medicare for health care services.