It's almost time to make sure the Medicare plan you have will be the best plan for you next year.
Whether you have Original Medicare, Medicare Advantage or a Part D prescription drug plan, you have one opportunity each year to make any changes you want. This opportunity is Medicare's annual open enrollment period.
Open enrollment begins on Oct. 15 and ends on Dec. 7. Any changes you make will take effect Jan. 1, 2013.
Medicare plan benefits and your needs can change on an annual basis, so use the open enrollment period to compare your options and get the right fit.
During this past year, have you: Changed the medications you take? Been diagnosed with a new medical condition? Any of those changes could mean your current Medicare plan no longer meets your needs.
Medicare plans also change. The costs of your plan can go up or down, and prescription drugs can be added or dropped from the list of drugs (the formulary) included in your plan. Some Medicare plans change the benefits they offer or stop offering coverage in a particular location.
Because of such changes, you should check your current Medicare plan and, if necessary, switch to another one that fits you better.
You can compare the plans available in your area, and enroll in a new plan if you choose, by visiting medicare.gov/find-a-plan or calling 1-800-MEDICARE.
Planprescriber.com is another excellent online resource for comparing Medicare plans that’s very user-friendly and is completely free to use.
How to Find Help
If you need some additional help with your Medicare decisions, contact your Senior Health Insurance Counseling Program (SHIP), which provides free one-on-one Medicare counseling in person or over the phone. To find a local SHIP counselor visit www.ship.oid.ok.gov, or call 800-763-2828
You can also get help through the Medicare Rights Center (medicarerights.org), a nonprofit consumer service organization that maintains a hotline at 800-333-4114 to help answer your questions.
And don’t forget about your Medicare & You 2013 booklet which offers a plethora of information. You should have received a free copy in the mail by now. If you didn't get one, call Medicare at 800-633-4227 and ask them to mail you one. Or, you can read it online at medicare.gov.