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Talkin’ ‘bout my generation

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So what about this OEP that involves Medicare?

By Ken Rechtin

Baby Boomer

Turning 65 and eligible for Medicare? Or are you on Medicare now? Then this column is for you! It’s open enrollment time!

I’ll bet you are being besieged with numerous solicitations!

Confused by parts A, B, C and D (and whatever other famous letters of the alphabet there may be.)

My brother Nick is turning 65 next month. He reports receiving over 40 mailings in one month. This exceeds offers he has received for credit cards!

So what is this all about?

Every year, people with Medicare get to explore new choices and pick the health and drug plans that work best for them. This is a good thing: it is called consumer choice!

This year, the open enrollment period is starting on Oct. 15 and ending Dec. 7. This gives people with Medicare a full seven weeks to compare and make decisions.

There are a wide range of health and drug plan options available across the country, including original Medicare.

Most people with Medicare can choose a “Part D” plan to help them pay for prescription drugs.

And people who have chosen to enroll in a “Part C” Medicare Advantage plan for their basic health care services have the option of staying in that plan, choosing a different plan, or going back to the original Medicare program.

Plans can change from year to year, so these are important choices that should be made with care.

People can turn to www.medicare.gov, call 1-800-MEDICARE, or consult with a local State Health Insurance Assistance Program for help.

During OEP, what changes can I make?

You can switch from Original Medicare (Medicare Parts A and B) to a Medicare Advantage (Medicare Part C) plan, switch from a Medicare Advantage plan back to original Medicare, switch from one Medicare Advantage plan to another which might involve switching from a plan without Medicare Part D prescription drug coverage to one that has it, or vice-versa.

You can make changes to your Medicare Part D prescription drug plan.

You can join a Part D plan; switch from one Part D plan to another one or drop your Part D plan altogether.

Once the Medicare Open Enrollment Period closes on Dec. 7, for the most part, you can’t make any changes to your Medicare plan until the following year.

Must I make a change?

Absolutely not! If the Medicare coverage you have now is working and your plan(s) is offered for 2013, then you can keep your coverage as it is. However, because this time comes but once a year, it’s a good idea to evaluate your coverage during open enrollment period every year.

That way, you’ll know if you already have the best coverage options for you, or if you need to make some changes.

How do I compare plans?

Knowledge is power. It is your health and your health care coverage.

You can and should make these decisions for yourself. And there are resources to help. Don’t be intimidated by this. You don’t need to be confused.

This site, http://www.medicare.gov/publications/pubs/pdf/10050.pdf, is the official U.S. government Medicare handbook. It is an excellent publication explaining all the details.

Can’t access this on your computer? Or need help in finding the site?

Then, stop in one of the SSNK Senior Activity Centers or County Libraries and use their computer!

Still feel that you need additional help?

Many of the SSNK Senior Activity Centers and libraries in Northern Kentucky are offering free help.

Please call any one of our centers for information on a program, class or a clinic near you.

 

Ken Rechtin is the Interim Executive Director of Senior Services of Northern Kentucky. Senior Services of Northern Kentucky is a 501c3 not for profit serving the needs of the Northern Kentucky aging population for 50 years. www.seniorservicesnky.org. Ken can be reached at 859-292-7971, or emailed at krechtin@seniorservicesnky.org.