Preparing for Medicare Open Enrollment

mother and adult daughter


Most of our residents and some of their adult children are Medicare recipients. This federal health insurance program covers adults over the age of 65 and younger adults with certain health conditions and disabilities. While Medicare provides recipients with many benefits, it can be tough to navigate.

As we approach Medicare Open Enrollment, the one time of year when people can make changes to their current coverage, we share a few helpful tips for preparing.

Medicare Open Enrollment Planning Tips

From October 15th to December 7th every year, current Medicare recipients can make changes to their existing plan and options. While you aren’t required to make any changes, it’s important to check that your preferred hospitals, pharmacies, and physicians will continue to participate in 2021.

You should have received or will shortly receive the “Evidence of Coverage” (EOC) and “Annual Notice of Change” (ANOC) documents in the mail. They will contain any changes to your plan scheduled for the upcoming year.

These documents probably aren’t the only Medicare literature you’ve been receiving. Because an increasing number of seniors are enrolling in Medicare Advantage plans, your mailbox is likely filling up with literature from them too. Review those packets of information and read more about Medicare Advantage plans on the official Medicare website if you are considering enrolling in one.

What else should you do to make the most of this fall’s Medicare Open Enrollment period?

We have some suggestions for you to consider.

  • Start early: Remember, for most people, this is the one time of year to make changes. Whether it’s joining a Medicare Advantage plan or switching back to traditional Medicare, start early. Don’t wait until late November only to discover questions or concerns you need answers to in a hurry.
  • Remember the 4 C’s: If you are considering keeping your current coverage, the National Council on Aging (NCOA) encourages you to keep the four “C’s” in mind: cost, coverage, convenience, and customer service. Compare past medical bills, provider locations, and any anticipated medications or services you will need in 2021to the 4 C’s.
  • Review prescription coverage: If you are relatively healthy and don’t use many prescription medications, it’s easy to overlook how expensive they are. Medication costs can add up quickly, especially for seniors on a limited income. Be sure you spend time exploring your options. Also investigate other plans if your current one doesn’t cover or has a high co-pay for a medication you currently take. Other plans may offer better coverage.

If you find this process confusing, you aren’t alone. The good news is Medicare has tools and team members that can help.

Get Help with Medicare Open Enrollment

The Medicare Finder Tool allows Medicare recipients to explore plans in their area. Search by zip code to locate health care plans, review drug coverage options, and compare costs. You’ll also be able to review each plan’s quality score or Star Rating.

If you prefer personal support, call 1-800-MEDICARE to learn more about the plans in your area. Each state also has in-person support through the State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP). Find the SHIP agency in your state here.

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