Preparing for Medicare's Open Enrollment Period

  • September 26, 2019

Medicare 2020 open enrollment is about to begin! Seniors who participate in Medicare can make changes to their current coverage from October 15 through December 7 every year. If you are new to open enrollment or interested in making changes for 2020, it’s time to start exploring your options and learning more about upcoming changes.

Reviewing Current Health Care Coverage

If you are satisfied with your existing plan, you’ll still want to take time to review it. Make sure your preferred physicians, hospitals, pharmacies, and outpatient providers expect to participate again next year. It is common for providers to opt in and out of plans.

The “Evidence of Coverage” (EOC) and “Annual Notice of Change” (ANOC) are documents you should have received in the mail or will shortly receive. They outline changes to your coverage scheduled for the upcoming year. Read each one carefully when they arrive.

The National Council on Aging (NCOA) also encourages Medicare recipients to keep four “Cs” in mind as they evaluate how well their current plan is working for them—cost, coverage, convenience, and customer service. Gather up your medical receipts for the past year, as well as a list of your preferred physicians, pharmacies, hospitals, and outpatient centers to get started.

Medicare Open Enrollment Basics

Since open enrollment is the only time you are able to make changes to your coverage, it’s important to make the most of it. Whether it’s researching Medicare Advantage plans or choosing to switch back to traditional Medicare, give yourself enough time to fully explore your options. Open enrollment is also a good time to review Medicare Part D prescription choices and Medigap insurance coverage.

The Medicare Finder Tool can be used to locate and explore plans in your area. A quick search will allow you to connect with health care choices and prescription drug options, while comparing the costs. It will also help you review each plan’s quality score.

For seniors who prefer one-on-one support, help is available. You can call 1-800-MEDICARE to learn more about the plans in your area and have questions answered. In-person support is also available in every state through the State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP). Search here to find the SHIP agency that serves seniors in your state.

Finally, don’t overlook local workshops and other educational services for Medicare open enrollment. Libraries, senior centers, hospitals, pharmacies, and assisted living communities often offer them for free. Call your local agency on aging for help locating one.

Medicare Wellness Visit

If you are a Medicare recipient, you are entitled to an annual wellness visit at no cost. It’s one of the benefits seniors gained through the Affordable Care Act (ACA). This article explains more about the Medicare Wellness Visit and why older adults should take advantage of it each year.

Medicare 101 Workshops are offered at Five Star Senior Living communities across the country. Call us at (617) 796-8387 to learn more!


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