Senior Health: Open Enrollment Period for Medicare Begins November 15

Nov 16th, 2010 | By Sharon Shaw Elrod MSW EdD | Category: Lifestyle, Health & Fitness

Open Enrollment for Medicare began yesterday, November 15, and continues through the end of the year, December 31.  This happens every year, and is the time when you can (1) enroll in Medicare or (2) change the Medicare Advantage plan or (3) change the Medicare supplement (Medigap) policy you have been on for the past year. 

Some of us seniors received letters telling us our plan is no longer available in the area where we live.  Not to worry.  Medicare benefits aren’t being taken away from us, but if you received such a letter, you have some decisions to make and you will need to determine what new plan(s) you want to enroll in: 

You need to identify the plan in question and determine if it’s a Medicare Advantage Plan, a Medicare supplemental policy (Medigap), or a “Stand-Alone” Prescription Drug plan.  Once you are aware of what is ‘going away’, you can then go to the Medicare website and begin to evaluate your options.  You can also enroll in those options online if you want.    

If you are enrolling in Medicare for the first time, you can do all the paperwork online.  Many questions are answered in the Frequently Asked Questions section on the site.   In addition, many of our readers have told us they find the Senior Citizen Journal article about Open Enrollment helpful.

Some seniors are looking seriously at changing from Original Medicare to a Medicare Advantage plan.  Such a change means the individual will have a plan that is administered by a private insurance company, subject to the terms and conditions of the policy.  If you are looking at such a plan, be sure to seek appropriate counsel in understanding what the plan covers and what it does not.  For example, some Medicare Advantage plans include prescription drug coverage, and some do not.  You need to be sure you know what you are buying when you change to this kind of plan.

Most of the other issues are covered in the SCJ previous article, so be sure to take a look at it and know what you need to be thinking about during Medicare Open Enrollment.



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