Medicare and Social Security: End of Year Checklist

Oct 31st, 2010 | By Sharon Shaw Elrod MSW EdD | Category: Social Security & Medicare

Year-end is the time senior citizens need to take a look at decisions they may want to make about Medicare coverages, as well as a review of their Social Security accounts. (The Annual Enrollment Period–AEP–for Medicare is upon us.)   The following is a list SCJ editors compiled regarding questions to ask and issues to consider.  If we find we’ve left something out, we’ll add it and provide an alert on the front page.


Some retirees have medical health insurance coverage provided in a retirement plan or benefit; this is usually a supplemental plan, that is, health insurance coverage that supplements Original Medicare or Medicare Advantage.  In such case, Medicare or Medicare Advantage is the primary coverage, and the plan provided by the former employer is secondary.

To begin, all seniors 65 and over need to remember our annual enrollment period for Medicare begins November 15, and continues through the last day of the year, December 31.

  • For Baby Boomers just reaching 65, this is the time to enroll in Medicare (original) or Medicare Advantage, and/or Medicare Part D (Prescription Drug Plan).  We’ve explained the differences in previous articles, but basically you BBs need to choose either Original Medicare Part B or Medicare Advantage (the Part B coverages provided by private insurance companies). 
  • Depending upon what coverage you choose for Medicare Part B, you may also need to make a choice about your Prescription Drug coverage, Part D.  Some Medicare Part B plans include Part D, and some do not.  You need to choose the Plan that best meets your needs.
  • For those of us who have been Medicare beneficiaries previously, we may consider changing our Prescription Drug coverage during the annual enrollment period (Part D) if it is coverage separate from our Part B plan. 

In addition, here are some considerations many of us seniors will want to be thinking about:

  1. You can choose to complete the enrollment for Medicare or make changes online.  Enrollment is done on the Social Security/Medicare site.  If you are already enrolled in Medicare Part B and/or D, you can make changes on your health insurance company website.  The URL for your plan is provided by your insurance company. 
  2. This is a good time to review the beneficial changes we Medicare recipients have as a result of the Affordable Health Care Act.  The biggies are the gradual elimination of the ‘donut hole’, (the coverage gap that was written into the original bill in 2003 for Medicare Part D, requiring us seniors to pay full price for medications after a certain expense point was reached) and the absolute protection of our existing coverages. 
  3. Finally, year-end is a good time to review your Social Security account, the benefits you received in 2010, and what you can expect in 2011.  For some of us, not much will change, since the cost of living increase will not occur in 2011.  But it’s still a good time to take a look at the account online.  You need to have online access to your personal information.  If you already have a Social Security site login created, you can go here to get the information you need.  If you need to create a login for your personal Social Security account, and password, you need to go to this page.    

Let us know what we left out, Senior Friends!  We want to be sure to include as much information in this year-end advisory as possible.



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  4. [...] 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 [...]

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