The Medicare Open Enrollment period is winding down and an expert says you should be sure to look and see if there might some changes needed in your plan.
Julie Brookhart of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services says open enrollment ends on December 7th. “This is the one time of year when all people with Medicare can make changes to their current coverage if they want to,” Brookhart says. “So, Medicare health and prescription drug plans, they can make changes each year to things like the cost of the premiums and the cost of the benefits.” Brookhart says it is a good time to compare plans to see if a change could cost you less.
“For example a person’s prescription drug needs may change over a year. They might find a more cost effective plan for the actuary drugs they take,” She explains. “So you need to pay attention to the annual notices of change you get for the current plan.” Brookhart says there is a lot of help available to walk you through the various plans.
“You can either go to our website Medicare.gov if you are computer savvy, or have someone help you. You can also call 1-800-Medicare, which is 1-800-633-4227.And those customer service reps can also help you,” according to Brookhart. She says there are some simple steps to take during the enrollment period to ensure that your plan is personalized to best address your health care needs.
“Review your current plan and any mailings you get in the mail from your current plan to see if there is anything changing,” Brookhart says. “Think about what matters most to you. Do you need to switch because you have added new drugs or dropped some drugs from your current plan. Is there a specialist in your plan for a surgery coming up? You may need to switch for that reason alone.” Brookhart says you can also check to see if you qualify for payment help based on your income.
“There’s an extra help program that pays for some of your out-of-pocket drug costs. And these are for low-income single persons or couples,” Brookhart explains. “And you can apply for this extra help program through Social Security as they determine eligibility.” She says you can also get help from the state program called the Senior Help Insurance Information Program, or SHIIP. More than 600,000 Iowans are enrolled in Medicare.