What You Need to Know About Medicare Open Enrollment

Nov 27 • 2017

The Medicare open-enrollment period is underway. Do you know what this means or where to find the information you need? We sat down with Kerri Lenderman, a certified healthcare financial professional and managing partner at MedicareCompareUSA Consulting, to get answers about some of the most common Medicare questions.

Q. Is open enrollment the only time someone can sign up for a Medicare Advantage or Medicare Prescription Drug Plan?

A. No, many Medicare-eligible people also qualify for special election periods for various reasons. It’s important to speak with a licensed agent that works with Medicare products to see if you may be eligible for a special election period. Also, dual-eligible people—those who are eligible for both Medicare and Medicaid—can change plans monthly. And those aging into Medicare have a seven-month initial enrollment period.

Right now, we’re in the Medicare annual enrollment period—between Oct. 15 and Dec. 7. During this time, Medicare beneficiaries can choose or change a Medicare Advantage or Prescription Drug plan. These plans start on Jan. 1. This is often the only time patients can change coverage from one plan to another.

Q. How can someone determine what plan options are available?

A. There are three basic options.

  1. Call the helpline serviced by MedicareCompareUSA at 866-484-6783 for one-stop shopping.
  2. Call 1-800-MEDICARE or visit www.medicare.gov. Keep in mind Medicare does not help you identify which plans are accepted by your health care provider.
  3. Compare the costs and benefits between plans on your own. It’s a very complicated process.

Q. What things should you take into account when making a plan decision?

A. Your physicians, preferred hospital, medications and financial considerations are important. You also should think about your travel schedule and how that may affect the plan you choose.

Q. How does the Medicare Insurance Helpline, serviced by MedicareCompareUSA, help people make their decisions?

A. MedicareCompareUSA-affiliated agents only represent Medicare plans that are accepted and contracted by a certain health care system—in this case, Baptist. The helpline helps you focus on plans accepted by your providers. We help guide you through the buying process by asking questions and raising other key points. After you’ve selected your health care plan, we stay in touch throughout the year to make sure your needs are being met. We consider the annual enrollment period an insurance check-up. We reach out to clients we’ve helped in the past to make sure they’re still happy with the plan they have or set an appointment to review what is available in the upcoming year.

Q. What advantages are there to calling the Medicare Insurance Helpline, serviced by MedicareCompareUSA, when selecting a plan?

A. Benefits/Premiums may change every year. And it may be hard to determine which plan makes the most sense for your needs or budget. By calling the helpline, you get a one-stop shop. And you can talk to a licensed agent who represents plans contracted in the market where you live. You and the agent can discuss which doctors you see, medications you take, specialists you go to, and then gather these facts to look at plans that best meet your needs. This helps you narrow your focus and simplifies the entire shopping experience. Best of all, this service is free to those eligible for Medicare, as MedicareCompareUSA is paid by whichever Medicare plan you choose.

If you have questions about Medicare, call the Baptist Medicare Insurance Helpline (serviced by Medicare CompareUSA) at 866-484-6783, or click here to request an appointment or to complete the Medicare Patient Questionnaire.

MedicareCompareUSA services Medicare Insurance Helplines on behalf of health systems that provide care for more than 4 million Medicare beneficiaries. MedicareCompareUSA is an insurance agency, call center and media provider of Medicare-related content. MedicareCompareUSA is not affiliated with the federal Medicare program.