October means that the annual Medicare Open Enrollment period is here. This is the time of year when seniors, and those who are Medicare beneficiaries, can change, update, or select health care plans that would best meet their needs now and for the next year. This is a critical time to verify that you and your loved ones have the right health care plan that you need for your own unique health care needs.
This is so important, we're holding a Free Client Only Review October 29th on Medicare: What You Need to Know Now. Come hear an area expert on what you need to know before open enrollment is done.
We know this can be a confusing time. Let us share with you six tips that you may use to help you find the information you need to help you make the right plan decision regarding your Medicare coverage.
- Check your mail. You should have received in September by US mail your Plan Annual Notice of Change (ANOC). This will update you on the current offerings within your Medicare plan, as well as including any changes. You want to pay special attention to any changes that might impact your health care needs. If you did not receive this letter in the mail, you will want to go to the Medicare Plan Annual Notice of Change website to make sure you can review the information that applies to you.
- Understand the lingo. Medicare has its own acronyms and it’s own language when it comes to the Medicare program. For example, as we mentioned above, ANOC stands for the Plan Annual Notice of Change. There are also different types of Medicare, including Part A, B, and D. You want to learn what applies to you and not allow yourself to be confused by the jargon.
- Visit Medicare’s website. Medicare has gone to great lengths to be able to give you as many resources as possible. While they may not provide all of the answers, many of them will. Be sure to either go to your local Medicare office or go to the website to learn more about the resources provided and available for you.
- Consider using the Medicare Plan Finder tool. Each year Medicare plans change and you may not know all that is available to you. Do not wait to go to the Medicare website and use this tool to learn more. It can show you the plans that are available in your location that match your specific health care needs. You may be surprised to learn that there are more plans available than there were last year or, by converse, that some plans have been removed.
- Check in on your estate planning documents. Right now, you are healthy and able to make these health care decisions for yourself. Consider the fact that you may not always have the capacity to do so. You will want to talk to your estate planning attorney about your durable power of attorney and your health care documents. You need to make sure that these are updated and give legal authority to your selected agents to be able to make these decisions for you should you not be able to make them yourself.
- Do not forget to consider long-term care needs as a part of this equation. Unfortunately, in almost all scenarios Medicare will not pay for the high costs of long-term care. The reason why is because Medicare is an acute payor system and most long-term care encompasses custodial care. This will not be covered by Medicare. This means that you need to think now about how you will pay for this cost of care. Do not hesitate to use our free reports, such as the How to Set the Stage for Your Medicaid Eligibility, to help you plan for what you may need now.
We know that these tips may cause you to have even more questions than you already did. Do not put off getting the answers you need during the short window of time for the annual Medicare Open Enrollment period. We encourage you to contact our office and sign up for a work shop to discuss both your health, estate planning, and elder law needs.