Well school has started and that means we are fast approaching my favorite time of year, Annual Open Enrollment Period for the Medicare insurance products. Individuals with Medicare in the coming weeks will be receiving the 2021 information packets. Medicare along with the Medicare Advantage Plans, the Medicare Prescription Drug Plans, & the Medicare Supplements all have slightly different coverage pricing and benefits each year.
Many of those changes are announced October 1 for the upcoming year. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) requires that the insurance companies notify you what your coverage looks like in the New Near by October 1. That means in the next few weeks of September, you will be receiving mail from your insurance company informing you of what 2021 looks like for that plan.
October 1 is the date that all the Medicare related insurance products release their information publically, to allow individuals to compare their alternatives for the New Year. Occasionally we get trickles of information prior to that October 1 date, but most are on October 1.
If you remember last year in addition to that change we had a newly released www.medicare.gov website to learn about as well. Well now we have had a year to get used to that website, so we can focus on learning about how our insurance coverage may be changing.
The information is released on October 1, and that gives us some time to research some of the alternatives. Then on October 15 the Annual Open Enrollment Period actually begins. This is the date that you can first make a change to your insurance coverage that will begin 1-1-2021. From October 15 to December 7 each year those enrolled in Medicare and the accompanying insurance products can review and change their insurance to a product that will work for them in the New Year.
When you have Medicare, you notice an increase in the amount of mail (and maybe email) that you receive in the coming weeks. That mail includes important information about the insurance product you already have. That mail also includes information about many other products that are available to you.
This 2020 year has been much different that we have ever had before. Many of us have hardly been to see a doctor at all. You may have had very little change to our situation medically. You still need to evaluate your insurance decision. That evaluation always begins with your current coverage. Do you like it? Is it still available? Does the pricing structure stay pretty similar with regard to premium and co-pays for medical care and medications? Did it cover your medications easily and affordably and will it still be affordable next year?
When looking at those questions, if all the answers are “Yes” you can probably stay with your current coverage and let it roll over to 2021. In some years gone by, there are plans that are no longer offered, we will know soon about 2021. In previous years there have been plans that change names. Almost every year we have one or two new plans offered. Those are things to watch for.
Your mail box may see more activity in the coming weeks. You will also see more advertising on TV as well. This year we will also see some competition in those venue’s with the political advertising as well. So in addition to the Annual Open Enrollment Period we also have a Presidential Election Day to look forward to. I will remind you to vote when that gets close! Now I am just reminding you to watch your mailbox and your in-box for Insurance information for 2021.
Senior Life Matters is a community based program sponsored by Lutheran Jamestown. For questions and concerns or to reach Janell Sluga, GCMC, call us at 716-720-9797 or e-mail at SLM@lutheran-jamestown.org.