Taking Advantage of Medicare Open Enrollment
Access to affordable prescription drugs is critical no matter what age you are. For seniors currently enrolled in Medicare, choosing the right Medicare Part D plan is often important to access. Every year Medicare open enrollment begins on October 15 and ends on December 7.
In addition to those seniors who rely on traditional Medicare and Part D, over 22 million Americans – one third of all Medicare beneficiaries – are enrolled in Medicare Advantage, which provides seniors the options of enrolling in Medicare plans created and offered by private health insurers. While lower population densities make offering Medicare Advantage plans in rural areas more challenging, I continue to look for ways to improve access to these popular plans.
During the annual Medicare open enrollment period, enrollees are allowed to reevaluate their Part-D and Medicare Advantage plans and if warranted, switch to a plan which better fits their needs. If you already have a plan which fits your needs, change is not required. However, it is recommended you review your options every year in case your needs have changed, or another plan now provides better savings or coverage options.
This can sometimes be a difficult process to navigate. To find the perfect fit, you must know all of your options. Fortunately, there are avenues for assistance to help cut through the weeds. By calling 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227), you can talk directly with an expert to take you through the process step-by-step, or you can visit Medicare.gov and follow the directions. Also, for those who like a more hands on approach, you can make an appointment by calling Nebraska Senior Health Insurance Information Program (SHIIP) at 1-800-234-7119. When calling these numbers, make sure you have your list of prescriptions, including dosages, on hand.
My office is hosting a series of Senior Service Fairs at Grand Island, Scottsbluff, and Beatrice during the Open Enrollment season. At these Senior Service Fairs, you can visit with volunteers from SHIIP who will offer one-on-one consultations on available Medicare Part D prescription drug plans.
Just as when you are calling, make sure to bring a complete list of prescriptions, including dosage information (please visit http://adriansmith.house.gov/2019SeniorServiceFairs for dates, times, and locations). Representatives from Social Security and the VA will also be on hand to answer questions. Complimentary blood pressure screenings will be provided as well.
As always, if you are having trouble with Medicare, or any federal agency, please do not hesitate to contact my office. My casework staff have assisted hundreds of Nebraskans in need of help with an agency and are always looking to help more. This open enrollment season, take advantage of the resources you have and find the best plan for you!