The Annual Medicare Open Enrollment Period is right around the corner. Beginning October 15th through December 7th, Medicare beneficiaries have the opportunity to look at other insurance options and compare plans to see if changes are needed – or if it would simply be to their advantage to revise their coverage — for the next calendar year.
There are many reasons why a beneficiary would consider a different insurance plan. It could be a change in the beneficiary’s health. Or maybe insurance companies are no longer covering a medication as in previous years. Or perhaps a doctor is no longer accepting the current insurance plan.
The State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP) provides free, unbiased Medicare counseling and education to help Medicare beneficiaries make informed choices regarding their insurance benefits. “Everyone is looking at ways to save money or get more insurance for their money, and a plan comparison is a great way to help with this,” said Susan Hackney, the SHIP Coordinator at United Way Area Agency on Aging.
Beginning October 1st, beneficiaries can call 1-800-AGE-LINE to schedule an appointment with a SHIP Medicare Specialist. There will be in-person appointments at United Way of Central Alabama, as well as appointments by phone. Also, there will be Open Enrollment events hosted throughout Jefferson County, where one-on-on counseling will be available at various community locations. A Plan Comparison Form will also be located on the Area Agency on Aging’s website at www.uwaaa.org that will be helpful if a plan comparison is needed and can help make the most efficient use of time spent between the beneficiary and SHIP Medicare Specialist.
Below are a few reminders to help you make the most informed decision during the Medicare Open Enrollment period:
- Don’t be rushed into making a decision.
- Don’t make a decision because a broker or agent is nice.
- Don’t get distracted by “extras” that make a plan sound great.
- Don’t wait until the last minute to get Medicare counseling. December 7th is the last day to make changes to your plan.
- Don’t choose a plan just because your neighbor likes it. Your needs may be different.
- Don’t worry about Medicare options, call 1-800-AGE-LINE and make a SHIP appointment.
SHIP is available throughout the year to assist with information on Medicare, Medicare supplements, Medicare savings programs, Medicaid, prescription drugs, billing and claims, rights and protections, fraud awareness and prevention and long-term care.