Time To Check Your Medicare This Fall

The weather is starting to cool off and fall is on the way. Soon it will be time for fall colors, sweaters, pumpkins and.... Medicare. Medicare Part D Open Enrollment starts on Oct. 15 and it's important to take advantage of it to ensure you are prepared for 2024.

Every year, the Richland County Commission on Aging sees clients who are upset because their plan isn't paying very much of or any of their prescription costs. More often than not, this is because they are not on a plan that is right for them because they didn't know to take advantage of the Open Enrollment period the year before.

Open enrollment lasts from Oct. 15-Dec. 7 and, for most people, this is the only time they can change their plan for the upcoming year. If you forget and the plan changes you may get sticker shock when you go to the pharmacy after the first of the year. Unfortunately, unless certain circumstances apply, you will be stuck with that plan for the rest of the year because Open Enrollment has already ended.

To avoid this happening to you, make sure to observe the following:

DON'T:

• Assume that since your medications are the same you can keep your old plan.

While your current plan might still be the best one for you it is best to check to make sure. Often times, the plan itself will change what it is going to cover for the next year or what the premium charge will be. Sometimes they even change which pharmacies they will work at.

• Keep a plan simply because it is sold by the same company that carries your Medicare Supplement.

Part D plans and Medicare Supplements are not connected. You need to weigh the values of each one independently

• Buy a more expensive plan assuming it will give you the best coverage

Each plan needs to be evaluated against your current prescriptions, more expensive plans may give great coverage for some medications but none for the ones you actually need.

• Buy a plan on name recognition alone.

There are a lot of companies that sell prescription plans; just because you have heard of them doesn't mean they are right for you.

DO:

• Get a complete list of your medications and dosages.

Having accurate information will ensure you get an accurate result.

• Check your plan each year during Open Enrollment

If you are computer savvy, you can do this yourself at medicare.gov or you can have a trained SHIP (Senior Health Insurance Program) Counselor do it for you free of charge

• Encourage your friends and family members to take advantage of Open Enrollment

It may seem like everyone has heard of Open Enrollment but there are a lot of people who don't understand its importance.

The Richland County Commission on Aging has two SHIP Counselors on staff that can help you check your Part D plan, explain the different coverage phases and make any changes you choose. All Medicare help provided by the COA is by appointment and free of charge. Open Enrollment appointments are booked in ½ hour increments so if you wish to discuss any other Medicare issues, please let us know when making your appointment. Appointments can be made by calling 406-433-3701.

 

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