Review Choices during Medicare Open Enrollment

| News, Services

Pati Kimball, Senior Solutions
State Health Insurance Program (SHIP) Coordinator

The Medicare open enrollment period is from Oct. 15 to Dec. 7 each year. At this time, you can make informed choices about keeping or changing your Medicare Drug plan, and / or Medicare Advantage plan. We are here to help.

This period is designed by Medicare to allow individuals to compare their current Medicare drug plan or Medicare advantage plan. It doesn’t matter if you have had the same drug plan for several years you have the right to compare it with other plans to make sure it is still the best one offered to you. If you change your drug plan at this time the new plan will begin the following Jan. 1.

Medicare enrollees should review their current costs and benefits even if they are happy with their current coverage.

During open enrollment, you can switch to better prescription drug coverage. Switching your drug coverage — or adding drug coverage for the first time — can make crucial medications that you need less expensive. It can also ensure that your drug plan still covers the drugs you need (as your prescriptions may not be included on your plan’s formulary for next year).

You can also save money and keep your doctor “in-network” by switching your Medicare Advantage or Part D plan. This can potentially save you hundreds of dollars a year — especially if your current plan’s out-of-pocket costs will increase next year. Research shows that the average consumer can save $300 or more annually if they review their Part D coverage.

Another way to lower your medical costs is to check that your current doctors, hospital, and pharmacy are “in-network” with whatever Medicare Advantage or Part D plan you choose. If your insurance company has changed your plan’s provider or pharmacy network for next year (and your doctor or other resources will no longer be included), you can use Open Enrollment to switch to a plan that will include your current doctors, hospital and / or pharmacy in-network, thereby lowering your medical costs.

The “Medicare and You” booklet is mailed to beneficiaries late September each year. This book will have the Medicare drug plans available for Vermont as well as any advantage plans, also known as Part C. This book is a helpful tool for beneficiaries for any of their Medicare questions.

Senior Solutions – State Health Insurance Assistance Program will have up to date information to guide you with Medicare. Please call Senior Solutions at 1-802-885-2669 or 1-866-673-8376 (toll-free) to set up an appointment for this assistance.

Senior Solutions covers the southeastern Vermont region. This assistance is usually done via the phone, but in-person assistance is available if needed. Also, Senior Solutions can screen you for programs from Green Mountain Care which can help pay for your Medicare drug plan and lower the co-pays at the pharmacy.