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As the country grapples with the COVID-19 health pandemic, seniors may be worried about the future. When the days feel uncertain, it’s important to know you can count on your health insurance to cover your care needs. Medicare is the most common health plan for adults over the age of 65.
Though Medicare is the most utilized option for insurance, it’s not always well understood. People are confused about what is covered in Part A and what Part B pays for, as well as what a Medicare Advantage plan is. In addition to coverage concerns, there is the mountain of paperwork you often receive during open enrollment. It can all be a bit overwhelming.
As we head into Medicare open enrollment, which runs from October 15 through December 7, we answer some of the questions seniors and their families may have about the benefit.
What Seniors Should Know About Medicare in 2021
Q: How do I know if my plan is changing for next year?
A: Medicare recipients receive a notice listing any changes that will go into effect for the following year. It’s called the Plan Annual Notice of Change, ANOC for short. You should receive it every year in September.
Q: When does Medicare let me know how much my Part B will cost?
A: Every fall, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) publishes price increases for the following year. While you might begin seeing estimates online as early as spring, those aren’t finalized until fall.
Q: Because of coronavirus concerns, many of my doctors are using telehealth visits. Is Medicare paying for these and will they continue to pay?
A: As of March 6, 2019, Medicare expanded telehealth visits. While some recipients were covered prior to the COVID-19 crisis, such as seniors living in rural communities, the coverage is now much broader. Talk with your physician to be sure, but even audio-only calls can be paid for now. Unfortunately, we don’t know how long this will continue. It likely depends on how long the coronavirus pandemic lasts.
Q: I’d like to start searching for Medicare plan options for my mom. Is there an “official” place where those are listed? What I’m finding are mostly ads.
A: There are definitely a lot of ads for Medicare Advantage plans online! Fortunately, Medicare has an avenue for making the search easier. Find a Medicare Plan is a good place to look. You can find everything from Medicare Advantage plans in the county your mother lives in, as well as options for Medigap insurance if you choose to go with traditional Medicare.
Q: This year will be our first time going through Medicare open enrollment. I’m wondering if there is anyone my husband and I can talk with instead of trying to find answers online?
A: Yes! If you are a Medicare beneficiary who prefers personal support you can call 1-800-MEDICARE to learn more about the plans in your area. Each state also has in-person support available through the State Health Insurance Assistance Programs (SHIPs). Find the SHIPs agency in your state here. Keep in mind that the COVID-19 crisis may be impacting the availability of one-on-one appointments so don’t wait until the end of Medicare open enrollment to seek advice.
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