Brenda Lyle – Special to FLORIDA TODAY
Reader question: If I don’t like my Medicare Plan, can I change it?
Answer: Let’s start with the basics. You probably know that Medicare provides health insurance for Americans over 65.
Medicare helps with medical costs, but it’s not free. And there will also be out-of-pocket expenses.
After doing some research, you’ll want to choose an affordable plan option that works for your lifestyle.
Many people sign up for both Medicare and Social Security Benefits at age 65. If you choose to delay your receipt of Social Security benefits, it’s still a good idea to sign up for Medicare at 65 — or you risk paying higher premiums later.
So mark your calendar and get ready for the alphabet soup of Medicare enrollment!
Part “A” covers hospitalization, skilled nursing facility stays and some home health care. AARP suggests you enroll in at least Part “A” at age 65, so that you can get in the system.
Part “B” covers preventative services, doctor’s visits, medical supplies and outpatient care.
Then there’s Part “D,” which helps cover the cost of prescription drugs.
In addition to Medicare, some people enroll in a supplement or “Medigap” plan.
The supplement plan can cover some — or all, of the costs not covered by your Medicare plan.
You can choose to skip traditional Medicare altogether and enroll in a Medicare Advantage Plan.
The choices you make can further affect when you can make changes to your plan.
The annual Open Enrollment Period for Medicare runs from Oct. 15 through Dec. 7.
During this time you can change TO an Advantage plan, change FROM an Advantage plan back to original Medicare, or enroll, dis-enroll or change, a Part “D” plan.
The Medicare Advantage Plan has its own Open Enrollment Period for making changes.
It runs from Jan. 1 to March 31.
Circumstances may also qualify you for a Special Enrollment Period.
Needless to say, this can all be downright confusing.
Mike Kowalchuk of Viera Insurance Professionals is a 17-year veteran of the industry. His top tip for new enrollees?
“Review all your options and don’t just choose what a friend or neighbor has. One plan doesn’t fit all.”
For those wanting to make changes, he advises: “Don’t just trade one problem for another. Make sure the new plan really solves all the issues you had with the old one.”
One Senior Place is a marketplace for resources and provider of information, advice, care and on-site services for seniors and their families. Questions for this column are answered by professionals in nursing, social work, care management and in-home care. To submit a question, send an email to askOSP@OneSeniorPlace.com or visit One Senior Place, The Experts in Aging at OneSeniorPlace.com.
Brenda Lyle is a Certified Care Manager for One Senior Place, Greater Orlando.