Artful Aging

What You Should Know about Medicare Open Enrollment

Medicare’s open enrollment period is about to begin! This is the one time each year when older adults have the opportunity to make changes to their existing coverage.

Medicare’s open enrollment period is about to begin! This is the one time each year when older adults have the opportunity to make changes to their existing coverage.

If you are new to Medicare or the adult child of a Medicare recipient who is trying to guide them through this process, the sheer number of options can be overwhelming.

We thought it would be helpful for our friends in Seattle and the Pacific Northwest who read our magazine, if we shared the answers to the most commonly asked questions about Medicare Open Enrollment.

What are the dates for Medicare Open Enrollment?

The Medicare Open Enrollment period remains the same from year to year: October 15th through December 7th.

If I make changes or help my parents change providers during Medicare Open Enrollment, when will they go in to effect?

Any changes you make for yourself or on behalf of a loved one during open enrollment will go in to effect on January 1, 2017.

If my parents are satisfied with their current coverage why do they need to conduct a review? I’ve heard Medicare experts mention doing so on the news.

Because plans and the providers in them change from year to year, you should review your parents’ coverage to make sure the physicians, outpatient centers and hospitals they count on will be participating in Medicare or the Medicare Advantage Plan your parents are currently enrolled in again next year.

What are Medicare Advantage Plans?

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

Where can I find more plan and coverage information?

Information about the following year’s Medicare plans is released to in October. So if the plans for your area haven’t yet been already posted, they will be soon.

If you have general questions about your coverage choices, you can visit How to Get Medicare Coverage for more information.

If you find the Medicare website a little too tough to navigate, you can also call 1-800-MEDICARE (633-4227) for help.

If we don’t want to make any changes what do we need to do?

If you have spent time reviewing your options and are satisfied with your current coverage, you won’t need to do anything else. Unless you tell Medicare otherwise, your coverage will remain the same from year to year.

What services does each part of Medicare cover?

This is by far one of the most common questions seniors and their adult children have about Medicare. From A to D, here’s a quick overview of what each part covers:

  • Medicare Part A: Covers inpatient hospital care, short-term skilled nursing and rehab center care, hospice, and skilled home health services.
  • Medicare Part B: Includes physician office visits, outpatient rehab centers, durable medical equipment, preventative screenings, emergency ambulance services and more.
  • Medicare Part C: These are the Medicare replacement plans seniors can choose in lieu of traditional Medicare.
  • Medicare Part D is the prescription medication benefit.

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