Start Planning Now for Medicare Open Enrollment

HealthPlan-300x200.jpg​Medicare's open enrollment period begins October 15, but aging parents and other seniors should start thinking now to about w​hether they want to change plans for the coming year.

What is open enrollment?

Open enrollment is the period from October 15 to December 7 during which aging parents and others covered by Medicare can choose the coverage plans they want to have in effect for the next coverage year, which begins January 1, 2016.

During the open enrollment period, seniors can consider different plans (including Medicare Part D, the prescription drug coverage section) and choose a replacement if they find a plan that better fits their specific needs.

Should you change your medicare plan?

Many seniors have no need to make changes to their existing plans; they already have plans that work well for them. Others, however, are enrolled in plans that are not the best fit. For example, their may not be accepted by particular doctors or their co-payments may be more expensive than they would like.

There are many factors to consider when choosing a plan, so it pays to start thinking about it now. Knowing what does and does not work will help you know what to look for in a new plan.

Things to consider

The Medicare website lists eight factors which to consider when selecting a Medicare option. These include:

Coverage. Does the plan meet your needs?
Other coverage. If you have other forms of health insurance, how does that insurance interact with Medicare coverage?
Costs. There are many costs associated with Medicare plans, such as co-payments, deductibles, annual caps, etc.
Choice. What doctors and hospitals accept a particular plan?
Prescriptions. Finding a plan that adequately covers prescription drug costs is very important.
Quality. Are the doctors and services covered by your existing plan providing you with an appropriate level of care?
Convenience. How easy is it to get to doctors covered by the plan? Are the pharmacy options offered by a plan acceptable?
Travel. Does coverage extend to different states or to other countries?

Planning in advance can help you make a better choice. Don't wait until December 7 to start thinking about Medicare options!

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