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Thursday, October 14, 2021

Helping Seniors Make the Most of Medicare Open Enrollment

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Medicare’s annual open enrollment period for 2022 is almost here. This 8-week period of time gives Medicare recipients an opportunity to make changes to their current health plan coverage. The window for making changes opens on October 15 and closes on December 7 every year.

If you or an older adult you are assisting is enrolled in a Medicare Advantage plan, their timeline for making changes is different. Current Advantage plan recipients can make changes between January 1 and March 31 each year.

Since most Medicare resources have moved online, it may be tough for a senior to work through the maze of options that are available to them. Some choose to remain with their existing Medicare coverage because they feel overwhelmed by the process. Others are fearful of making a mistake because they aren’t comfortable navigating the Internet. Both can be problematic.

It’s Important to Explore Medicare Options

A plan that might have worked well in the past, may not offer the best coverage moving forward. Providers drop out of Medicare on a regular basis. That may mean a senior’s long-time doctor will no longer accept patients on traditional Medicare in the new year.

With the increase in Medicare Advantage plans, it’s also possible that a better option is out there. One that has a broader choice of healthcare providers at a better price. Sometimes changing plans can save seniors money, while also giving them access to different care providers.

If you will be helping a senior loved one with Medicare Open Enrollment this year, the following tips will be of interest.

Make the Most of Medicare Open Enrollmentmedicare open enrollment 2

Every Medicare recipient receives what is called an Annual Notice of Change (ANOC) in the mail. These usually arrive in late September or early October. From cost increases to differences in providers, this notice is designed to inform people of upcoming changes to their existing coverage. It’s important to carefully review the ANOC to look for alterations that might impact you or a senior family member’s satisfaction with a current plan.

It’s also a good time to evaluate the past year’s coverage, including how well the plan worked, and if there are better options to pursue:

  • Consider: Make a list of things you are happy with and those you aren’t. Try to be honest and objective. From the availability of appointments with a primary care physician to the distance of the closest lab for blood work. Consider what is working and what isn’t.
  • Calculate: Pull together a list of the out-of-pocket expenses you’ve had over the past year or two. Include premiums you pay for gap insurance, coinsurance costs, and deductibles. Add all of these together. This will give you the true cost of your current plan so you can compare it with other options.
  • Explore: Most Medicare recipients find their mailbox fills up with brochures from healthcare plan providers. So much so that it can be overwhelming. Try to review at least a few of these options every day, and make notes about their pros and cons. If you are comfortable using online resources, the Medicare Plan Finder is a good tool to utilize. It allows you to enter your zip code and search for plans available in your area.

If you and your aging loved one have questions and you just want professional help to determine the best plan for 2022, the State Health Insurance Assistance Plan (SHIP) will be of interest. There are SHIP advisors available in every state to provide unbiased, one-on-one support. All at no cost to you.

Make an Informed Choice When a Senior Needs Care

Just like it’s important to research options for a Medicare provider, it is also necessary to thoughtfully choose a senior living community for a senior loved one. That means knowing what to look for and what questions to ask.


Presbyterian Senior Living has over 90 years of experience providing senior living and home care services. We’ve used the knowledge we’ve acquired to create a free resource that families can download. This Skilled Nursing Community Evaluation Checklist can be printed out to keep you focused on what’s important to know when you are calling or visiting communities.

Checklist- Skilled Nursing Evaluation Checklist

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