AnnouncementsLong Term PlanningIt’s That Time of Year – Medicare Open Enrollment

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Whether you are new to Medicare or have received benefits before, it is important to understand and take advantage of the Open Enrollment period to make changes for your 2022 coverage.

If you are already enrolled in Original Medicare, a Medicare Advantage Plan or Medicare Part D and do not want to make any changes to your 2021 benefits, then you do not have to do anything during this open enrollment period.  However, use this time to review your plan to be sure that it still meets your needs and that you understand any changes in the premium cost.  You also want to double check that your plan is still available for your service area.  If you don’t make changes during the Medicare Open Enrollment period, you may find yourself locked into your benefits for the next year.  Except under certain circumstances, you are barred from making changes to your plan except during the annual Medicare Open Enrollment period.

Open Enrollment

Open enrollment begins October 15, 2021 and is open through December 7, 2021.  This is the time of year when you can enroll, re-enroll, or change plans for 2022.  Medicare reminds you to check your mail as you may be receiving important notices about your current plan and your Medicare options.  Also look for your 2022 “Medicare & You” handbook (which can be found at www.medicare.gov/Pubs/pdf/10050-Medicare-and-You.pdf).   During this time, you can make changes to various aspects of your Medicare coverage:

  • Switch your coverage from “Original Medicare” to a Medicare Advantage program, or vice versa.
    • Original Medicare is the fee-for-service program in which the government pays directly for the health care costs you incur. You can see any doctor throughout the country, if the doctor accepts Medicare.  There are two major parts to the program:
      • Part A – which is called “hospital insurance” because it provides broad coverage for inpatient expenses and skilled nursing facilities, hospice care and home health services (however, there are limitations associated with each).
      • Part B – which is called “medical insurance” because it provides coverage for medically necessary services such as physicians, nursing fees, x-rays, diagnostic testing, blood infusions, chemotherapy and so on.

A great resource to understand what is and what is not covered under your Part A and Part B “original Medicare” benefit can be found here: https://www.medicare.gov/what-medicare-covers.

  • Medicare Advantage program – is also referred to as Part C. Medicare Advantage plans cover everything that Original Medicare covers, but, in many cases, they also cover urgent and emergency care services, vision, hearing and health and wellness programs.
  • Get personalized help in your community. You may be able to find free information and events online or get help from health insurance counselors in your area by phone, like your State Health Insurance Assistance Program.
  • If you have not enrolled in a Medicare Part D plan, you can do so now. Medicare Part D is the prescription plan.   Remember, however, that failure to enroll when you were first eligible may result in a penalty.  To learn more about Medicare Part D, go to https://www.medicare.gov/part-d/.

Taking the time to review your current plan and determining what is best to meet your needs for 2022 is important.  If you need assistance, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts’ executive Office of Elder Affairs offers counseling through the SHINE program.  SHINE (Serving the Health Information Needs of Elders) is a state health insurance assistance program that provides free health insurance information to Massachusetts residences.  To schedule an appointment with a SHINE counselor, call 1-800-AGE INFO (1-800-243-4636) and press 4.

Generations Law Group helps many families with long term care planning including Medicare and Medicaid decisions. Our offices are conveniently located in Acton, Sudbury, and Burlington Massachusetts. Contact us today to learn what you can do to protect your family.

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