How to Make the Most of Medicare Open Enrollment

Learn more about Medicare open enrollment and how to make the most of this annual event, including tips for locating plans near you.

Busy senior woman using phone

Are you ready for Medicare open enrollment? Fall is the time for Medicare-eligible seniors to make changes to their current coverage. This open enrollment period extends from October 15 to December 7 every year. Even if you are happy with your current plan, it’s important to review the details to confirm that your preferred physicians, hospitals, pharmacies, and other health care partners will participate in 2021.

Review Important Documents

Every year about this time, Medicare recipients should receive in the mail the “Evidence of Coverage” (EOC) and “Annual Notice of Change” (ANOC). These documents contain any changes to your plan scheduled to begin in the upcoming year.

But the EOC and ANOC likely aren’t the only Medicare-related literature filling up your mailbox this month. Medicare Advantage plans also use this time to send out information on their benefits, prices, and coverage.

It can all be a bit overwhelming, especially if you’ve never been through this process before. To help you make the most of this year’s Medicare open enrollment period, we share enrollment basics and tips to help you find assistance if you need it.

Medicare Open Enrollment 101

  • Review your existing coverage: As you evaluate how well your Medicare coverage is working for you, the National Council on Aging (NCOA) recommends keeping in mind the “four Cs”: cost, coverage, convenience, and customer service. Gather medical receipts for the year, as well as a list of your preferred physicians, pharmacies, hospitals, and outpatient centers. Figure out what your current plan does—and doesn’t—cover.
  • Take your time: While it’s not the most exciting way to spend your retirement, remember that open enrollment is the one time of year most seniors can make changes to their coverage. Take time to explore your options. Would a Medicare Advantage plan be a better option for you than traditional Medicare? Or should you switch back from an Advantage plan to traditional Medicare? It’s also a good time to investigate Medicare Part D prescription plans and Medigap insurance coverage.
  • Ask around: Word of mouth is often the best way to learn more about which options to consider and which to avoid. Ask friends and family for recommendations. Also visit the Medicare website to read reviews of any plans you are considering.

Find a Plan or Ask for Help

If you prefer to explore on your own, the Medicare Finder Tool is an easy way to find plans available in your market. It will allow you to connect with health care plans, review drug coverage options, and compare costs online at your convenience. You’ll also be able to review each plan’s quality score.

If you prefer one-on-one support, every state has in-person help available through the State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP). Find the SHIP agency nearest you here. You can also call 1-800-MEDICARE to learn more about the plans in your area. As COVID-19 concerns linger, this might be a safer option.

Rehabilitation and Skilled Nursing at The Wesley

Medicare has a benefit that covers expenses associated with a short-term skilled nursing stay. Sometimes it’s utilized when a senior has a planned surgery, such as a knee or hip replacement. Other times, an unexpected illness occurs and an older adult requires continued support to recover and receive therapy.

If you or a senior loved one needs the services of a rehabilitation and skilled nursing center in the Saratoga Springs, New York, area, The Wesley can be a solution. Call us at (518) 587-3600 to learn more!