ST. LOUIS – Medicare open enrollment started in early October and runs until December 7. Experts say now is the time to evaluate your coverage and adjust if needed.
“They could be out hundreds or thousands of dollars every year because they didn’t do anything in open enrollment,” Darren Hotton, associate director of community health and benefits at the National Council on Aging, said.
He says people often choose recognizable Medicare plans instead of what best fits their needs.
“What they do, though, is they just watch the commercials, and they’re like, ‘Well, that looks great. I should just join that plan,’ without thinking about all the ramifications associated with the Medicare Advantage plan,” Hotton said.
Hotton tells us some people overpay for a plan with coverage they don’t need, while others choose plans without enough coverage, putting them at risk of expensive medical bills. A lot of folks just don’t understand the enrollment process.
“They think it’s too hard, it’s too complicated, or it takes too long,” he said. “Or they just don’t care. And unfortunately, when they don’t care, they’re not actively involved in their healthcare.”
If you’re considering a Medicare Advantage plan, Hotton recommends the following:
“One: check to see if your doctors are in that network. Just call them and say, ‘Hey, do you belong to this plan?’ Two: is your pharmacy in that plan? And then three: if your prescriptions are covered,” he said. “From there, you can get all the rest of the supplemental benefits they offer, which is like vision, dental, and hearing.”
He encourages children and grandchildren to invest time in understanding their older loved one’s health coverage.
“This is a great opportunity for children, grandchildren who have technology experience, come sit down with your parents or grandparents, and walk them through Medicare.gov or ask questions about the type of coverage they have,” Hotton said.
With the holiday’s fast approaching and Medicare open enrollment ending Dec. 7, Hotton says the time to act is right now.
“Twenty, 30 minutes of your time to save hundreds of thousands of dollars is worth it every year. And grandkids and kids, make sure your parents are doing this to help them out, because they can be overwhelmed,” he said.
Older adults can go to their local state health insurance assistance programs to get unbiased help with selecting a Medicare plan. You can find locations at shiphelp.org.