Making the Most of Medicare Open Enrollment

Sunrise Senior Living  |  November 30, 2020
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We are nearing the end of Medicare’s annual open enrollment period for 2021. Have you taken time to review your options? This 8-week period was established to allow Medicare recipients time to explore different health care options. Whether it’s sticking with traditional Medicare or signing up for a Medicare Advantage plan, the window for making changes closes on December 6th every year.

Review Current Coverage

While it’s great to have a variety of options to choose from, in most health care markets it’s common for seniors to feel overwhelmed during Medicare open enrollment. This can lead some seniors to stick with their current plan.

What you should be aware of, however, is that plans change every year. For example, some health care providers may decide not to accept Medicare as a form of payment. At a minimum, seniors should take time to review any changes to their plan for 2021.

By now you should have received an Annual Notice of Change (ANOC) in the mail. The ANOC is a required document that health plans must send to inform enrollees of any revisions to Medicare—including costs—from this year to the next. Make sure to carefully review it for any variation that might impact your coverage and how satisfied you will be in the upcoming year.

Mastering Medicare Open Enrollment

A health plan that worked well in the past, may not be the best plan anymore. You might have options available that will give you better coverage at a more reasonable price. That’s why it’s always a good idea to explore what is available in your local area.

Here are a few tips to make it easier to get started and to make an informed choice:

  • Consider your needs: Begin by reflecting on how well your plan worked for you this year. Are you able to see the physicians you want and need to visit? Have you found yourself with a pocket full of uncovered expenses, such as for prescriptions and medical supplies? Make a list of what you are happy with in your current Medicare plan and what areas could use improvement.
  • Add up your costs: Pull out all of your explanation of benefit (EOB) forms and any health care expenditure receipts. Also, include expenses for any gap insurance or Medicare part B. Adding these to your total expenditures will give you the real cost of your current health care plan.
  • Investigate your options: The Medicare Plan Finder makes it easy to investigate other options available to you. Just enter your zip code to search for plans in your area. Easy Path to Choosing a Medicare Plan is another resource you might find helpful.

If you are struggling to navigate your way through the maze of Medicare options, there is help available at no cost to you.

Finding Help with Medicare Open Enrollment

The State Health Insurance Assistance Plan, known as SHIP, gives Medicare recipients access to advisors in every state. Should you prefer to ask questions to an expert in real time, a SHIP program advisor can help. They are experts in all things Medicare related from co-pays and out-of-pocket maximums to which providers are participating in 2021.

One last piece of advice is to avoid delay, especially if you’d like help from a SHIP advisor. The closer it gets to the December 6th deadline, the busier these professionals are.

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