How to Help a Senior Make the Most of Medicare Open Enrollment

How to Help a Senior Make the Most of Medicare Open Enrollment

Oct 08, 2018
3 min read

Is scheduling time to review health care plans during Medicare Open Enrollment on your to-do list this month? Fall is the one time of year that Medicare-eligible seniors can make changes to their current coverage. Medicare Open Enrollment runs from October 15th to December 7th every year.

Even if you are satisfied with your current plan, it's important to make time to review the details to be sure your preferred hospitals, pharmacies, and physicians will continue to participate. The "Evidence of Coverage" (EOC) and "Annual Notice of Change" (ANOC) documents you should have received in the mail will contain any changes to your plan scheduled for the upcoming year.

The EOC and ANOC probably aren't the only Medicare-related literature you've found in your mailbox. Medicare Advantage plans also use this time to send out information on their plans, prices, and coverage. It can all be a bit overwhelming.

Here's what Medicare seniors should know to make the most of the Medicare Open Enrollment period.

Medicare Open Enrollment Basics

    • Make time:

      This is the one time you have to make changes to your coverage. Whether it's exploring a Medicare Advantage plan to join or switching back to traditional Medicare, make reviewing your options a priority. It's also a good time to join a Medicare Part D prescription plan and explore Medigap insurance coverage.

    • Review current coverage:

      The National Council on Aging (NCOA) suggests seniors keep the four "C's" in mind as they evaluate how well their current plan is working for them: cost, coverage, convenience, and customer service. You will need to gather medical receipts for the year, as well as a list of your preferred physicians, pharmacies, hospitals, and outpatient centers to get started.

    • Prescription coverage:

      If you have a prescription medication your current plan doesn't cover or one that has a high co-pay, investigate other plans to see if there is better coverage available. Medication costs can add up quickly, especially for seniors on a limited income.

Medicare Plan Finder Tools and Support

The Medicare Finder Tool is an easy way to explore plans near your home. It provides seniors a quick way to connect with health care plans, review drug coverage options, and compare costs. You'll also be able to review each plan's quality score.

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

Some senior centers, independent living, and assisted living communities also offer workshops and classes to help seniors navigate their way through the Medicare Open Enrollment process. Check your local newspaper for those.

Senior Advice & Planning

Interested in staying on top of the latest news on aging well, senior housing, and caregiving? Bookmark our "Senior Advice" webpage and stop back often for new information.

If you need assistance exploring senior housing options for yourself or a loved one, we can help. One of our experienced senior care advisors can answer your questions and help connect you with a care community that best meets your needs. Call us at (888) 514-6461 to talk with a local advisor for free!


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