Helpful Tips for Open Enrollment
The world of Medicare/Medicaid can be an extremely confusing one. Each year, open enrollment occurs from October 15 - December 7. This provides the chance for individuals to review and make changes to their Medicare Part D prescription plans and Medicare Advantage plans. Changes that are permittable include monthly premiums, yearly deductibles copays, prescription copays, prescription formulary (list of covered medications), and pharmacy network.
This process can be overwhelming—how do you know which option best fits you? Here are a few tips for navigating the open enrollment season:
- Know the difference between Medicare and Medicaid. “Medicare is a medical program for people over 65 and younger disabled people and dialysis patients. Medicaid is an assistance program for low-income patients’ medical expenses,” explains the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. If you are a senior, then you are likely navigating the world of Medicare. All changes to your plan must be made by December 7, and new coverage begins on January 1, 2023.
- Seek help from a trusted source. The Michigan Medicare/Medicaid Assistance Program (MMAP) provides unbiased help with Medicare and Medicaid at no charge. This state-wide program doesn’t sell Medicare plans—certified volunteer counselors are there to help you understand your options. It is designed specifically to help older adults, their families, and caregivers understand, access, and apply. As Bob Callery, MMAP Regional Director, explains, “When people contact us, they may not be sure of what types of questions they need to ask, MMAP counselors can help people navigate the complexities of Medicare. Our counselors are unbiased and want to help people find what will work best for their needs and is the most cost-effective.” You can set up an appointment with a MMAP specialist at 1-800-803-7174, through the Area Agency of Western Michigan at (616) 456-5664, or email MMAP@aaawm.org.
- Watch out for scams. During open enrollment especially, scammers take advantage of this time of year by posing as representatives that offer assistance in signing you up for healthcare. Some quick tips from the Kent County Elder Abuse Coalition include:
- Scam: An unsolicited “agent” calls and offers to help enroll you in a health plan. Legitimate agents need your permission to contact you.
- Scam: The scammer will ask for your personal information, such as Medicare or Social Security number. You are always able to get information about Medicare plans without providing an ID number. ID numbers are only required when actually enrolling.
- Scam: Scammers may offer “free gifts” in exchange for your personal information. Real agents will never withhold service in exchange for your personal information.
An important part of open enrollment is making the best choice for your healthcare needs. Being aware of scams, understanding your options, and getting support from the Michigan Medicare/Medicaid Assistance Program are all things that can help make your open enrollment season a smooth process!