Medicare open enrollment starts soon

    Medicare recipients have the opportunity to make changes to their Medicare coverage during the Medicare Open Enrollment, which begins Oct. 15 and runs through Dec. 7 each year.
    It’s during this time participants may:
    Join a new Medicare Advantage plan.
    Join a new Part D Prescription Drug plan.
    Switch from Original Medicare to a Medicare Advantage plan.
    Switch from a Medicare Advantage plan to Original Medicare.
    Generally, Open Enrollment is the only time people may elect these changes and any changes made will go into effect on Jan. 1 of the next year.         To get ready for Open Enrollment, participants should think about two major things:
    Think about the current health and drug coverage. If you have Original Medicare, you should review the 2018 Medicare & You handbook to find out what your Medicare cost and benefits will be for the upcoming year.
    If you are unsatisfied with your coverage with Original Medicare, Open Enrollment is a good time to make changes.     Those who have not received a 2018 Medicare & You handbook you may contact Nebraska SHIIP at 1-800-234-7119, for a copy.
    People who have a Medicare Advantage Plan or a Part D Prescription Drug Plan should receive an Annual Notice of Change (ANOC) and an Evidence of Coverage (EOC) from your plan. These notices outline which providers, pharmacies, drugs and services your plan covers and what cost you will be responsible for in 2018.
    If you are not satisfied (for example, if a provider you see is no longer in your Medicare Advantage Plan’s network or a drug you need is no longer on your Part D plan’s formulary), you can make changes during Open Enrollment.
    Next, you should think about cost. Costs can vary greatly between the different types of Medicare Advantage Plans and Part D Prescription Drug Plans. Some Medicare Advantage Plans charge additional premiums on top of the Medicare Part B premium.
    Some Part D plans have a deductible, while others do not. Another plan in your area could offer you the same or better health and/or drug coverage at a more affordable price or have fewer or no coverage restrictions.
    Even those who are happy with the coverage they get or don’t see any major changes to your plan should still review their current coverage and look at other options in the area to see if there are other plans that cost less and/or offer better coverage.
    Help is out there. Nebraska SHIIP is a local source of free, confidential and unbiased Medicare education and counselling.
    Nebraska SHIIP will assist people in the evaluation of their Part C Medicare Advantage Plan or Part D Prescription Drug Plan and help them decide if changes are necessary.
    Contact Nebraska SHIIP at 1-800-234-7119 to make an appointment for free one-on-one counselling sessions.

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