As we head into the fall season and prepare for the year-end holidays ahead, many of you may also be preparing to review your Medicare coverage. October 15 – December 7 is Medicare Open Enrollment for anyone who is currently receiving Medicare benefits. Any changes made to your Medicare health plan and prescription drug coverage and will take effect starting January 1, 2014. Here are four simple steps with resources to help you through this annual process.
- Review your current plan and any updates for next year. Medicare health plans and prescription drug plans can change costs and coverage each year. It is important to review the materials your plan sends you each year, like the “Evidence of Coverage” (EOC) and “Annual Notice of Change” (ANOC). Make sure your plan will still meet your needs for the following year. If you’re satisfied with your current plan, you don’t need to do anything.
- Do your research and have your Medicare & You handbook handy. If you have any questions related to Medicare coverage, the handbook is a great place to start. It also includes other resources such as where to get personalized help.
Note: The Affordable Care Act and the Health Insurance Marketplace have no impact on Medicare. This new law and the marketplace created by it were designed for people who don’t have health insurance. If you have health coverage through Medicare, the Marketplace will not have any effect on your Medicare coverage.
- Beware of fraudulent activity and identity theft. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services encourages you to always guard your personal information and provides the warning below:
The Medicare open enrollment period is a time when there is a higher risk of fraudulent activity. Medicare will never call you at home, except if you’ve already reported a problem. Medicare will never ask for your Social Security number, because they already have it. And Medicare will never ask for your bank information, unless you called Medicare, requesting to pay your premiums automatically. Likewise, never share your personal information with someone who knocks on your door, or contacts you uninvited to sell you a health plan. That’s not allowed under Medicare rules. It’s also against the law for someone who knows you have Medicare to sell you a Marketplace health insurance policy, because you don’t need one. Be ready to say “no” if this happens to you. Finally, if you suspect fraud, you can call your local police, your state’s Attorney General, or the Federal Trade Commission if you suspect identity theft. If it has anything to do with Medicare, you can call 1-800-MEDICARE anytime to report it.
- Shop around. If you are not satisfied with your current plan or just want to review your other options, you can compare plan choices with Medicare’s Plan Finder. You can enter the drugs you take to find out how you can lower your costs, review the plan’s ratings to compare plan quality, and join a plan online if you find one that meets your needs. To help you use the Medicare’s Plan Finder, there are tutorial videos available on the Medicare website. Happy shopping!