The Medicare Annual Open Enrollment period began on October 15th and runs through December 7th. This is the time during which Medicare beneficiaries age 65 and older can make changes to their 2014 health and prescription plan coverage.
Recently, the Pennsylvania Department of Aging issued a list of “Do’s” and Don’ts for seniors to follow during this important time period. Here is the Department’s advice:
Medicare Enrollment “Don’ts”
- Don’t take a call from someone you don’t know or trust offering to help you navigate Medicare plans. You should be the one initiating any queries.
- Don’t give out any personal information, such as your Medicare number, to unsolicited callers. Remember: your Medicare number is the same as your Social Security number.
- Don’t toss the mail you received from your health insurer and competing firms about your 2014 Medicare plan. You need to read this material to find out what’s in store for you and learn about potential alternatives.
- Don’t assume that you (or your spouse) have the most appropriate Medicare plan. Some married couples shouldn’t be on the same Medicare plan. Depending on the medications each of you take and the doctors you both need to visit, one Medicare plan may be better for one spouse than another.
Medicare Open Enrollment “Do’s”
- Do review your current carrier’s Medicare plan for 2014 to ensure you understand any pending changes. Call your insurer with any questions. Then start researching alternatives on other insurers’ sites found at www.Medicare.gov
- Do study any changes in your plan’s drug coverage and cost (Part D, if you have traditional Medicare). Check to see whether each medication you take now or may need next year will be affected. Then, compare this with other plans you could buy.
- Do seek expert help if you need it. Start at APPRISE, the SHIP (State Health Insurance Program) which provides free, unbiased, one-on-one counseling and assistance to people with Medicare and their families.
- Do take your time, but be sure to make your choices before open enrollment ends on December 7. Although you shouldn’t procrastinate, you should take time to explore your healthcare choices. Medicare’s website, www.Medicare.gov and Medicare officials can help you. Even if you wait until the last day of open enrollment, you can still change your Medicare plans for coverage beginning January 1.
For those new to Medicare who need basic information www.Medicare.gov is the site to consult for explanations of Medicare, whether it is Original Medicare (Part A, Part B, Part D, and Medigap/Supplemental Plans) or Medicare Advantage Plans. For further help, state trained APPRISE counselors can provide free unbiased counseling.
APPRISE counselors are conducting information sessions and enrollment sessions in all counties throughout the State and they are as well meeting with people for individual counseling. You can find information about dates and times at http://tinyurl.com/l3m9526 or by calling APPRISE at 1-800-783-7067.[Source: Pennsylvania Department of Aging “Friday Wrapup,” November 1, 2013.]