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Take time to review plans during Medicare enrollment period

Q:  For more than two weeks I have been bombarded by mailings from different companies providing insurance to individuals on Medicare. I start getting irritated when I receive multiple flyers from the same company. When I turned 65 and became eligible for Medicare I chose a supplemental plan. Is it safe to assume I can just ignore all these mailings and remain with the plan I’ve had for several years?

A:   Medicare Open Enrollment starts on Oct.15th and continues through December 7th of this year. Coverage of your chosen plan starts on the first day of 2019. The various Medicare Supplemental Plans and the Medicare Advantage Plans are not allowed to contact you directly by phone or at your home without a specific request from you. Thus their primary means of marketing is through mass media communication which explains why you are receiving the number of flyers.

The Open Enrollment period provides beneficiaries the opportunity (depending on their circumstances) to switch from Original Medicare to a Medicare Advantage Plan or vice versa. The individual has the option to switch from one Medicare Advantage Plan to another or choose Original Medicare, a Part D plan and a Medigap/Supplement which helps to cover costs under Parts A & B. Sometimes married couples have two different types of plans from different insurance providers as they discover it to be the most cost-effective choice. A person also has the ability to enroll in Part D if they did not do so when they first became eligible, a penalty may apply unless they had credible coverage during that time.

During the next month and a half each individual can re-evaluate their current coverage to make a decision if the plan continues to best meet their current health care needs and financial situation. If a person’s health condition has changed at some point in the last 12 months or if new medications have been added their current plan may be insufficient. It is important to carefully read any material received regarding their insurance plan. From one year to the next Medicare Advantage plans can make changes regarding their network of participating physicians and hospitals, monthly premiums, deductibles and/or formulary (list of covered drugs).

It makes sense and doesn’t take much time to review all plans offered in the area where a person resides. A list of all participating companies is listed at the back of the 2019 Medicare & You handbook. An individual can also go on-line at www.medicare.gov to do a personalized screening or contact your local State Health Insurance Assistance Program (800-243-4636 press 3). Counselors are trained and certified to provide objective information to consumers. The counselors have no affiliation with any insurance providers.

 

Are you struggling caring for an older adult or having difficulty locating resources? Our staff is available for a no-cost consultation, set up at your convenience, to help guide you through your caregiving experience. For more details or to schedule an appointment, please call 800-892-0890.

Do you have a question? We encourage inquiries and comments from our readers. Please direct your correspondence to ageinfo@esmv.org or Elder Services of the Merrimack Valley, Inc., Age Information Department, 280 Merrimack Street, Suite 400, Lawrence, MA 01843. Joan Hatem-Roy is the CEO of Elder Services.