Medicare Counseling

Medicare Counseling is provided through the Virginia Insurance Counseling and Assistance Program (VICAP) at VPAS.  VICAP is part of a nationwide network of health insurance assistance programs.  Trained and certified counselors assist older adults, persons with disabilities, and their caregivers to understand and compare Medicare and other health insurance benefits.

VICAP counselors are not associated with any insurance company and do not sell insurance products. Counseling is unbiased, confidential, and free and is offered by appointment.  VICAP is offered at various locations throughout the VPAS service area.

Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment Period January 1 - March 31

The Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment Period is the time when you can:

  • Switch from one Medicare Advantage Plan to another Medicare Advantage Plan
  • Switch from a Medicare Advantage Plan to Original Medicare, with or without a Part D plan.

The enrollment period is from from January 1 through March 31, and changes take effect on the first of the month following the month you enroll. You can only make one change during this enrollment period. 

This is different from the Part D Open Enrollment Period (October 15 - December 7). 

New to Medicare? If you are preparing to turn 65 years old and need help understanding Medicare, we can help. VPAS' certified staff are trained and available to provide you with information to help you better understand Medicare coverage. 

Do You Need Help Paying Your Plan Costs? You may qualify for Social Security’s Low Income Subsidy (LIS) Program. If eligible, it can lower the cost of obtaining your medications. Call Social Security at 1.800.772.1213 for more details or go to You may qualify for Medicaid, which also helps pay these costs, so contact your Medicaid office.

Additional Resources The official U.S. Government site for Medicare. Extensive information on Medicare benefits. Helpful for finding health and drug plans available in local area by zip code.'s State Corporation Commission site offers many helpful resources about Medicare plans and Medigap plan choices and premiums. This site is managed by the US Department of Health & Human Services.  It offers objective information on long-term care insurance and provides valuable tools to help people begin a process of planning. 

Links to licensed long-term insurance carriers: This site lists long-term care insurance carriers authorized to sell in Virginia by the Virginia Bureau of Insurers.

Medicaid Renewals are Resuming

Here’s what you need to know: 

During the COVID-19 pandemic, Virginians enrolled in Medicaid were not required to renew their eligibility each year, the way they normally would. All states kept most people covered by Medicaid enrolled throughout the pandemic, even if their circumstances changed. This approach ended in March 2023, when Virginia and the other states resumed conducting eligibility renewals again for those enrolled in Medicaid. Some Medicaid members’ renewal will be able to be completed automatically, but others will need to provide more up- to-date information to retain their coverage. No members’ coverage will be canceled without the state asking them for updated information first.

  • How will I know if I am automatically renewed or if I must complete a renewal form?

  • What can I do to prepare for my Medicaid renewal?

  • What should I do if my Medicaid coverage is terminated?

  • What should I do when I receive a renewal packet?

  • Where can I find more information about what will happen when Medicaid renewals resume? Learn more here!



Medicare Special Enrollment Periods

If you missed a Medicare enrollment period, you may qualify for a Special Enrollment Period to enroll in Medicare Part B and/or premium Part A without penalty.

There are Special Enrollment Periods for certain situations, including losing Medicaid, being released from incarceration, and living in an area impacted by an emergency or disaster.

This fact sheet is a handy reference explaining what's considered an exceptional circumstance when it comes to Medicare enrollment.