Don’t Miss Out on Medicare Open Enrollment

Posted October 29, 2009 in Insurance Law by

I couldn’t even count how many health insurance related discussions I’ve had in recent months. The current debate continues among friends, between politicians, within families, in Congress, at the workplace, on talk radio and even on Facebook. These days, you can be forgiven if your eyes start to glaze over at the mention of health insurance. While it’s an important debate, I think we’re all starting to suffer from health insurance fatigue.

But if you are enrolled in Medicare, there’s one important message you shouldn’t ignore: Open enrollment begins Nov. 15 and runs through the end of the year.

Medicare is the government-run health insurance program for people who are 65 and older, plus some younger people with certain diseases and those with end-stage renal failure. During the last 6 weeks of the year, Medicare allows its participants to make changes to their plans. This period is known as open enrollment. Any changes you make will take effect on Jan. 10, 2010.

If your health has changed significantly in the last year, or if you’re taking different prescription drugs, it’s worth evaluating your current Medicare coverage and see whether a different Medicare plan would offer better coverage. Medicare offers a couple tools to help you makes these comparisons:

When comparing plans, Medicare recommends you consider the following:

  • Out-of-pocket costs, including premiums, deductibles, co-pays and co-insurance
  • Included benefits, including extras such as vision and dental coverage
  • Doctors, hospitals and pharmacies that participate in the plans and whether you’ll need referrals to see specialists
  • Whether your prescription drugs are included in the drug plan, and the out-of-pocket drug costs, including premiums and co-pays
  • The quality of care and performance provided by participating doctors and hospitals

Once you’ve evaluated the plan and prescription options, there are a few ways in which you can enroll:

  • Online on Medicare.gov
  • By calling the plan directly
  • By calling 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227) or 1-877-486-2048 for TTY users

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