What is Open Enrollment?

Older adults can sign up for Medicare Prescription Drug coverage for the first time during this period, and current Medicare consumers can make changes to several aspects of their coverage as well,” said Kansas Department for Aging and Disability Services (KDADS) Acting Secretary, Tim Keck. “If you’re already enrolled, this is an opportunity to review your coverage and make adjustments if necessary so it better meets your needs.” During open enrollment, those who are currently enrolled may:

Switch from Original Medicare to Medicare Advantage, or vice versa.

Switch from one Medicare Advantage plan to another, or from one Medicare Part D (prescription drug) plan to another.

And if you didn’t enroll in a Medicare Part D plan when you were first eligible, you can do so during the general open enrollment, although a late enrollment penalty may apply.

If you’re already enrolled in a Medicare Part D prescription plan or a Medicare Advantage Plan and you don’t want to make changes to your coverage for 2017, you don’t need to do anything during open enrollment.

However your current plan may not be available in 2017. If this is the case you should have received a non-renewal notice from your carrier prior to Oct. 15. If didn’t receive a notice, it means you can keep your plan without doing anything during open enrollment. But be cautious: your benefits and premiums could be changing for 2017.

The available plans and what they cover are updated from one year to the next, so even if the plan you have now was the best option when you shopped last year, it’s important to verify that is still the case before you lock yourself in for another year.

Finding the Best Plan For Me?

By now you should have been notified by your insurers about any adjustments in your health/drug coverage, or any changes in your out-of-pocket costs for next year, and if you feel as though your plan may no longer be the best option for you, open enrollment is the time to choose a new one. Shopping around is the best way to save you money and improve your coverage. Medicare’s website – www.medicare.gov – has the best tool for helping narrow your search for a new health or drug plan. Just click on “Find Health and Drug Plans.” From there, enter your ZIP code and the list of your prescriptions, then use the “Mediwcare Plan Finder” tool to compare coverage and out-of-pocket costs under different plans. Another convenient thing about shopping plans online is the ability to see the different qualities. To help you identify the best and worst plans, the Plan Finder provides star ratings for each plan. Gold stars are for plans with the highest, five-star rating, while a warning icon alerts you to plans that have performed poorly for at least the past three years.

If online enrollment isn’t for you, Medicare’s toll-free help line is available to call at 1-800-633-4227. One-on-one benefits counseling is also available for free through the State Health Insurance Assistance Program. Just call 1-800-860-5260 in Kansas or 1-800-390-3330 in Missouri

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