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Medicare Open Enrollment FAQ for MA Seniors

Medicare open enrollment has arrived! For seniors new to Medicare or if you are an adult child helping a senior loved one review their options, you might have a few questions. In this week’s update, we answer some of the questions people commonly have about open enrollment.

Q: What are the dates for this year’s Medicare Open Enrollment?

A: The Medicare Open Enrollment period stays the same every year. It begins on October 15 and runs through December 7.

Q: Is this the only time of year to make changes?

A: Medicare open enrollment is similar to an employee benefit open enrollment period. It is the one time of year when you have the opportunity to review your current health care and prescription coverage and make any changes you think will work better for you. Medicare encourages recipients to look back over their claims for the year, review out-of-pocket expenses, consider what you might need next year, and investigate other plans that might provide for better coverage. Medicare’s open enrollment brochure offers a few tips to making this annual review go more smoothly.

Q: If I am satisfied with things just as they are, why do I need to do a review?

A: At a minimum, you should check to be certain the providers you use will be a part of Medicare or the private plan you use again next year. Sometimes providers opt out of Medicare and other private insurance contracts and in other cases, an insurer may discontinue their contract with a provider.

Q: If I’m not making any changes for 2015, what should I do?

A: Once you have completed your review and have decided to keep your coverage the same, you are set for 2015. Your plans will stay the same next year.

Q: What are Medicare Advantage Plans?

A: Medicare Part C is comprised of private insurance options from which you can choose. They are called Medicare Advantage Plans. These are an avenue Medicare recipients have for getting their health insurance coverage through a private insurer. Each one contracts with Medicare to deliver Medicare A and B benefits. They are contractually obligated to allow you or your senior loved one to have at least as much coverage as would be provided to recipients with traditional Medicare.

Q: When do changes take effect?

A: Any changes during the fall 2014 open enrollment period will go into effect beginning January 1, 2015.

Remember if you have questions or concerns as you are working your way through this process, Medicare has people available to help you 24/7. You can reach them by calling 1-800-MEDICARE.

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