Medicare: What to know as open enrollment begins

Open enrollment for Medicare can be very confusion. But there are plenty of options to help you make the best decision.

By

Lifestyle

October 12, 2021 - 9:59 AM

Each fall, Medicare participants are entitled to make changes to their coverage during open enrollment. During the enrollment season, TV commercials and mail advertisements will come out in full force trying to gain your business. All of this can feel overwhelming and confusing, continue reading to help you navigate the Medicare maze. 

Each year in late September or early October, you should receive two pieces of mail regarding Medicare Open Enrollment. The first is the Official U.S. Government Medicare Handbook “Medicare & You 2022” regarding Medicare details. The inside cover page will inform you of what’s new and important for the upcoming calendar year. In the very back of the book will have the 2022 plans available in the state of Kansas. 

The other piece of mail you should receive is your “Annual Notice of Change” from your current insurance plan. Be sure to read this notice to review changes for next year. Beyond looking at the premium price, make sure all your drugs are covered and if your pharmacy is preferred, standard, or out-of-network.

Other types of mail may look official but are not, look for the fine print. It will say “Not affiliated with or endorsed by any state or federal government or medicare program.” A variety of this mail is not trying to scam you but want the opportunity to talk and persuade you to change to their plan. The same is for the TV commercials, they want you to call them so they can sell you their plan. This type of marketing is most common for Medicare Advantage Plans. 

There are four ways to get the help you may need in deciding to stay with your current Medicare plan or change. The first is to look at the “Medicare & You 2022” handbook for a listing of plans in your area located at the end.  The second is to visit Medicarel.gov/plan-compare to learn about and compare coverage options. The third is to call 1-800-MEDICARE. The last is free personalized health insurance counseling through Senior Health Insurance Counselors for Kansas (SHICK) available by phone (1-800-860-5260) or in-person at our Southwind Extension District offices (Erie, Iola, Fort Scott, or Yates Center) by appointment. 

Starting Friday, you can compare and change your Medicare Advantage Plan or your Prescription Drug Plans that is available in your area. The deadline to make these changes is Dec. 7.  Any changes you make during the open enrollment period will come into effect Jan. 1.

Beneficiaries with a Medicare Advantage Plan have another open enrollment period from Jan. 1 through March 31. Beneficiaries are allowed to change plans once during this enrollment period and it will be effective the first of the month after the plan gets your request.

If you don’t change your coverage during open enrollment, you may be stuck with your current setup for another year, so don’t pass up the chance to review your coverage today.

For more information, please contact Joy Miller, SHICK Counselor, [email protected] or by calling 620-223-3720. 

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