Chances are you have heard of Medicare Open Enrollment, but do you know why it is such a big deal? Once a year, from Oct. 15 to Dec. 7, people who are Medicare eligible have a choice to make: Keep their current health insurance coverage or change. As health care costs climb, it is even more important to stretch your health care dollars. Reviewing cost and coverage is how to get the best bang for your buck.
Why is it so necessary to review current coverage?
- Advantage and prescription drug plans can change significantly from one year to the next. Make sure the medication you need is still available and affordable on your plan
- Are your preferred health care providers still on your plan?
- Have the premiums and co-pays gone up or stayed the same?
Even if your plan worked great last year, you should review plan changes rather than assume it will stay the same in the coming year.
Be sure to open the mail from your plan
How do you know if you should keep or change your plan? You need to open and read the mail your plan sends to you. So many people toss or ignore their mail because they feel intimidated by insurance language or feel they already know what’s in it and ignore it. If you are having difficulty understanding the letter your insurance carrier or Medicare has sent you, a State Health Insurance Program (SHIP) counselor can help. Each state has a SHIP program, and those volunteers are happy to help you understand and review your coverage. If you need to talk to someone right now, 1-800-Medicare operators can review options over the phone.
If you prefer to review your insurance plans on your own, go to www.Medicare.gov to view your options online or contact the State Health Insurance Program (SHIP) in your state www.shiptacenter.org for additional resources.
No matter how you review, rest assured you did your part in being a good steward of your healthcare dollars.
Not yet on Medicare? Learn about other types of health coverage.
Phoebe Hawley is a certified State Health Insurance Program Counselor in Colorado. She has almost 20 years guiding beneficiaries with Medicare, Medicaid and other insurance providers in a variety of settings.