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Medicare Open Enrollment is here. This year, Medicare’s Annual Open Enrollment begins in October and runs into the beginning of December. The annual Open Enrollment Period gives Medicare beneficiaries an opportunity to make alterations to their existing coverage selections to ensure they have the right coverage for their needs. These changes could include, but not be limited to, changes in health care needs, as well as changes in costs, coverage, and providers moving to a different network.

We know you may have questions about where to start in your analysis of your Medicare coverage. Let us share key questions to ask as you take advantage of this time to intentionally review your Medicare coverage to ensure your plan can still work the way you need it to next year.

  1. Have you reviewed your Annual Notice of Change letter? This is a letter from Medicare to you as a beneficiary of the plan. It should have arrived by mid-September and will contain valuable information such as the changes to your plan scheduled for the upcoming year. It also explains coverage and costs, such as premiums, deductibles, and copays.
  2. Do you know if your medical expenses have changed over the past year? Review your medical expenses over the last three to six months to see what, if anything, has changed. This could include your doctors, specialists, deductibles, and the prescription medications you need.
  3. Do you know what is available in your community? The Medicare Plan Finder on the Medicare website is an online tool from the government to help you select a plan. After you enter your zip code and details about your medications, you can compare plans available in your area. You can also try the State Health Insurance Assistance Programs, which offer free local counseling to enrollees.
  4. Are there more coverage options that you are not familiar with? Medicare has a number of different plans available outside of “traditional” Medicare. For example, there is Medigap coverage. A Medigap policy helps fill “gaps” in original Medicare and is sold by private companies. If you are not able to purchase a Medigap policy, a Medicare Medical Savings Account (MSA) might be a good option. MSAs combine high-deductible insurance plans with a medical savings account that you can use to pay for your health care costs.
  5. Will you use “traditional” Medicare or change to Medicare Advantage, or vice versa? Medicare Advantage plans are out there and these plans offer a type of Medicare health plan offered by a private company that contracts with Medicare to provide all of your Part A and Part B benefits. Most Medicare Advantage plans also offer prescription drug coverage. Before switching to a Medicare Advantage plan, be sure to examine it closely. Many plans offer a $0 premium, but the trade off is that the out-of-pocket costs can be high or your current doctor may not be in-network.

While there is extensive information available from Medicare itself, our office is also here to act as a resource to you during open enrollment. Don’t forget also that finding the right Medicare plan is critical to your overall long-term care and elder law planning. If you need help with either of these areas, or have questions about how to provide for a loved one who may have an increase in long-term care needs, do not hesitate to contact our office today to schedule an appointment.