Helping a Parent Prepare for Medicare Open Enrollment

October 8, 2018

Medicare open enrollment

Navigating your way through Medicare open enrollment can be confusing. Use this information to help you learn more and get started.

Medicare’s open enrollment period has arrived! As of October 15, seniors and others who participate in Medicare can make changes to their existing coverage. If you are an adult child helping an aging parent navigate their way through this process for the first time, it can be daunting. Many adult children feel anxious, overwhelmed, and fearful that they will make a bad decision.

We thought it would be helpful to the residents of Legacy Senior Living communities and the older adults who follow our blog if we shared a few tips for making the most of Medicare Open Enrollment.

What to Know About Medicare Open Enrollment

Q: How long can we make changes and what are the dates for Medicare Open Enrollment?

A: Medicare Open Enrollment is the same every year: October 15 through December 7. While that might seem like a generous time frame, it can go quickly when you are exploring your options. Be sure to start early and give yourself plenty of time.

Q: If I make changes on my parent’s behalf, when do they take effect?

A: Changes made during open enrollment go into effect on January 1 of the following year.

Q: What is Medicare Advantage Plan?

A: Medicare Advantage Plans are offered by private health insurance companies. These plans fall under a senior’s Medicare Part C benefit. Insurance companies contract with Medicare to provide health care services to seniors.

Some of these plans offer very cost-effective solutions for older adults with benefits that might extend to prescription coverage or even hearing aids. It’s important to do your research, however, as these plans can vary widely.

Q: Do Medicare recipients who are satisfied with their current coverage need to do anything?

A: Unless you indicate otherwise, your current coverage will be automatically renewed. There are a few steps to take to ensure that your plan or your parent’s plan will remain the same. That includes checking to be sure current physicians, pharmacies, hospitals, and outpatient centers will still participate. Remember, some providers opt out of our plans and even traditional Medicare.

Carefully review the “Evidence of Coverage” (EOC) and “Annual Notice of Change” (ANOC) documents you or your parent received in the mail. These notices will list any plan changes for the upcoming coverage year.

Q: Where can I learn more about plans and coverage in my parent’s area?

A: You can use Medicare.gov to search for options near you or your parent. If you would prefer to talk to someone by phone, call 1-800-MEDICARE (633-4227) for help.

Finally, every state has personal help available, but you will need to contact them early as their schedules are busy during the open enrollment period. Find the contact information for your state here.