News From Terre Haute, Indiana

October 21, 2012

SOCIAL SECURITY: Medicare Open Enrollment: Now’s the time

Brian Hewitt
Special to the Tribune-Star

---- — If you currently are enrolled in Medicare and are considering changes to your Medicare health and/or drug plan, act now. The “open season” runs from Oct. 15 to Dec. 7.

In our work with Medicare, one of the questions people ask most often is which plan is the best one. That’s not something we at Social Security can answer, because picking a plan is an important and personal decision. Each person has a unique set of priorities. How do you weigh your options? Now’s the time to think about what matters to you, and pick the Medicare plan that meets your needs.

When you sit down to review your Medicare health and drug plan choices this year, keep track of the things you may want in a plan, and pick one that’s right for you. Here are some things to keep in mind while you consider your choices:

• Costs. You should look at your current health care costs to find coverage that works with your financial situation. How much are your premiums and deductibles? How much do you pay for hospital stays and doctor visits? Just like everything else, the lowest-premium health plan option might not be the best choice for you.

• Coverage. Are the services you need covered? We know future health care needs can be hard to predict, and changes happen. Maybe your doctor changed your prescriptions this year or you have different health concerns. Make sure you understand what services and benefits you’re likely to use in the coming year and find coverage that meets your needs.

• Convenience. Your time is valuable. When comparing plans, make sure you check which doctors and hospitals you’ll be able to use. Where are they located and what are their hours? Check which pharmacies you can use. Can you get prescriptions by mail? Remember that even if you’re happy with your current plan, these answers might change from year to year.

• Quality of care. Ask yourself whether you’re truly satisfied with your medical care. Not all health care is created equal, and the doctors, hospitals and facilities you choose can impact your health. Look for plans with a 5-star performance rating — the right expertise and care may help speed your recovery and improve your outcomes.

It’s worth your time to take a look and compare coverage between now and Dec. 7. Use the Medicare Plan Finder at www.medicare.gov/find-a-plan/questions/home.aspx to look at all of the health and drug plan options in your area. If you still need help comparing, call 1?800?MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227) or go to www.medicare.gov for more information.   

Only you know what’s most important to you and your family — that’s why we want to make sure you have all the information you need to make the best decision. Before you consider your Medicare plan options, think about your personal priorities so you can be sure your plan meets your unique needs.