Senior Life Matters

Question: I know open enrollment is coming. I went to the website and it has a big announcement about an updated website. I tried to use it, and found some of it better and some of it confusing. For one thing I couldn’t find my previously saved drug list. Do you know anything about this update?

 Question: I know open enrollment is coming. I went to the website and it has a big announcement about an updated website. I tried to use it, and found some of it better and some of it confusing. For one thing I couldn’t find my previously saved drug list. Do you know anything about this update? 

Answer: I am thrilled to talk with someone who uses the website. It has been a useful source of Medicare information since 2005. There have many updates and improvements over the years. We have come to rely on this website in so many ways. 

The other thing that has changed significantly since 2005 is our reliance on the internet and being ‘connected’ to the information available on it. We can access so many businesses and services via the web today. Our banking, our shopping, our medical professionals, are all using web-based information and access. This web-based access often requires setting up a user name and a password that will allow you to have access anywhere in the world to your information. 

We also see our government agencies doing this same thing. You can apply for many benefits online. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) and Social Security Administration (SSA) are doing this as well. We have talked about the website and how it works many times in the past, but there is now a significant change to how we use this website. 

As we approach the Annual Open Enrollment season, we will have a new website to use. This new site launches on October 1, 2019. That is now! This new website is significantly different in how it looks and how you access YOUR information. The website will immediately request/require you to create a login and password. This new login and password will be for which will be seamlessly connected to the website. 

When you set up this login and password, you can then begin to set up all your Medicare related information. This year you will have to re-enter your Medication List, as your previously saved Medication List will not be accessible from previous years. 

As with any change to our favorite websites, this will take a bit to get used to. It will look different and have different information highlighted. Some of changes I am sure will make this website more useful to everyone. It just will take some adjustment for us to get used to it. 

This portal going forward will be accessible to you to find Medical claim information, providers we use, as well as Medication Information. This website has the technology to allow us to access our medication claims processed through our Prescription Drug Plans. That is something we have not been able to do before. To get real time data related to our prescription drugs. 

The website will continue to offer the opportunity to review and evaluate alternative insurance options for the New Year. This will also obviously be available anytime we want to access the website to review and compare plans. This is a very useful tool when looking at your situation during Open Enrollment. This can also be useful at other times. Maybe you are taking a new medication, or have a new diagnosis 

that is changing your situation significantly. This website allows you to compare alternative plans anytime. It is also providing you the options and alternatives available to you for switching your insurance. That can happen during the year as long as you have an Enrollment Period or Special Enrollment Period available to you. 

This new portal and website allows you to print out a new Medicare card if you ever need one. The website allows you to check on medical claims and their status. It allows you to get electronic version of the Medicare & You handbook as well as notifications and Medicare Summary Notices (MSN’s). 

Once established this website portal allows you to edit any of your information, your mailing address, your email, and your communication preferences. (This last term means do you get information on paper that is mailed to you, or electronically via email.) 

This website also has the added opportunity to “LiveChat” with Medicare Customer Service Staff. This could be a useful tool when using the website and you find there is something you don’t understand, or have difficulty accessing information. 

As we move into the Open Enrollment Period (October 15 to December 7) we know that there will be a lot of individuals looking to this new updated website for information and enrollment. This year it is important to allow some extra time to look at this new website, the new layout and information. It will take us a while to get used to the new look. 

As with any change that happens, we often grumble and complain! I know I did at first. It will take some adjustment for us to become as comfortable with the new website as we are with the old website. 

The timing is not the greatest, but the timing was dictated by the Federal Budget Fiscal Year. The new year for the Federal Government is October 1. So the new contractor and new website start that date. October 1, 2019 is also the first day we can see the new plan data for 2020. So that is a lot of pressure and excitement added to this year’s Insurance Season. 

You have heard me say it before, Happy Insurance Season to all and to all, Good Health! 

To contact Janell Sluga, GCMC with questions or concerns, please call 716-720-9797 or e-mail her at