Lisa Conway – FLORIDA TODAY
Q: Am I supposed to do something during Medicare open enrollment?
A: Medicare open enrollment or Annual Enrollment Period (AEP) is an important time for the millions of Americans who rely on the federal health insurance program for their healthcare needs. The annual enrollment period from October 15th to December 7th provides an opportunity to make changes to existing Medicare coverage.
The multi-part Medicare program is primarily designed for individuals aged 65 and older.
- Part A: Covers hospital care and is typically premium-free for those who have paid Medicare taxes while working.
- Part B: Covers medical services, doctor visits, and outpatient care. It requires a monthly premium.
- Part C (Medicare Advantage): Offers an alternative to Parts A and B and often includes prescription drug coverage. These plans are provided by private insurers approved by Medicare.
- Part D: Provides prescription drug coverage and is offered by private insurance companies.
Open Enrollment Matters
During Medicare open enrollment, beneficiaries can make important decisions.
- Switch Plans: You can change from Original Medicare (Parts A and B) to a Medicare Advantage plan or vice versa.
- Change Prescription Drug Plans: If you have Part D, you can switch to a plan that better fits your providers and medication needs.
- Review Your Current Coverage: Even if you’re happy with it, understand your plan coverage, its costs, and any upcoming changes.
- Evaluate Your Health Needs: Consider any health or medication changes. Are your current doctors and medications still covered?
- Research Plans: The Medicare Plan Finder tool at Medicare.gov will compare plans based on your location and circumstances.
- Seek Help: Medicare and State Health Insurance Assistance Programs offer free guidance. Insurance brokers can also help by reviewing your providers and medications before identifying the plan that is best for YOU. Each year, Viera Insurance Professionals has provided me with valuable guidance for my clients.
- Online: Enroll at Medicare.gov.
- By Phone: Call the insurance company, or Medicare at 800-MEDICARE.
- In-Person: Meet with an insurance professional.
- Open enrollment runs from October 15th to December 7th.
- Changes take effect on January 1st of the following year.
- Late Enrollment Penalties: Failure to enroll in Medicare at age 65 can result in lifetime penalties and gaps in coverage.
Confused? Both One Senior Place locations offer a variety of educational opportunities and Medicare resources.
On October 11, One Senior Place in Viera will present Medicare 101: What You Need to Know for 2024. RSVP online or by calling 321-751-6771.
On October 6, One Senior Place in Altamonte Springs will present their 11th annual Medicare Education special event. RSVP online or by calling 407-949-6733.
One Senior Place is a marketplace for resources and provider of information, advice, care and on-site services for seniors and their families. Questions for this column are answered by professionals in nursing, social work, care management and in-home care. Send questions to askOSP@OneSeniorPlace.com, call 321-751-6771 or visit One Senior Place, The Experts in Aging.
Lisa Conway is a Registered Nurse and a Certified Care Manager for Senior Partner Care Services, Viera.