Oct 11, 2011

Medicare Open Enrollment: 4 Places to Look for Medicare Information

By Julie Green Bataille, Director of Communications

Whether it’s apple picking or Sunday afternoon football, there’s a comfort in things that happen every fall. Shorter days and cooler nights also mark the start of Medicare Open Enrollment. Between now and December 7, you can expect to hear about the choices, benefits, and lower overall costs you have when it comes to Medicare - many of them thanks to the health care law. Open Enrollment is your chance to review your health care coverage and see if you need to make any changes, or if you are happy sticking with the plan you have.  The health care law extended the Open Enrollment period and made it earlier – giving you more time to make choices and giving Medicare time to process everything so your coverage starts without a hitch on January 1st.This year, you can make any changes as early as October 15. Over the next few months, look around – you’ll find a wealth of information about your Medicare benefits. Our Medicare Open Enrollment calendar tells you what to look for this fall, especially in these 4 everyday places:

  1. Your mailbox Look through your mail carefully — you may get important notices from your current plan, Medicare, or Social Security about changes to your coverage or any extra help you may get paying for prescription drugs.Also look for your Medicare & You handbook.  Like an old friend, it shows up around the same time every year. This year, it may be in your email inbox instead – if you decide to “go green” and asked to get it electronically. But whether it’s on your computer or on your bookshelf, now is the time to take it out and find out what’s new in Medicare. You’ll also start to see brochures from companies that offer Medicare health and drug plans. Just remember, be smart about protecting your personal information and your identity — plans aren’t allowed to call or come to your home without an invitation from you.
  2. On your computer Comparing your plan choices is important –and our Medicare Plan Finder makes it as simple as possible. Soon, you’ll be able to watch a video about how the Plan Finder works. Enter the drugs you take to find out how you can lower your costs, review a the plan’s star ratings to compare plans based on quality, and join a plan right online if you find one that meets your needs.
  3. In newspaper, newsletters, and magazines Take a moment as you enjoy that morning coffee to read the Medicare information that’s out there.  You may find a local event — somewhere right around the corner with counselors to help you, like your State Health Insurance Assistance Program. Don’t miss the chance to get personalized help if you need it.
  4. On television and radio At the end of one of those shorter days, as you relax in front of the television, you may see some advertisements or programming about Medicare plans and your new choices.  You might also hear some advertisements on your way to or from work as you listen to the radio.Now is the time to enjoy the choice and control you have over your health care coverage. Just like fall, Medicare Open Enrollment only comes once a year.