Flu season has arrived, holiday stress has begun to take its toll, and changes in weather can aggravate long-term health conditions—all of which can lead to more visits to your Portland Medicare doctor.
To ensure you continue to get the insurance benefits you’ll need this winter (and beyond), make sure you don’t miss the annual Medicare open enrollment period, which began in mid-October.
In 2016, about 7 million Medicare patients could see their premiums increase, while many others may see changes to their benefits and options. If you’re one of the more than 55 million Americans enrolled in Medicare, you have until Dec. 7 to review your coverage and make any changes for the coming year.
Here’s what you need to know about Medicare open enrollment for 2016:
What can I do during the open enrollment period?
Patients who receive Medicare benefits can use this time to make changes to their coverage, such as:
- Switch from Original Medicare to Medicare Advantage. To qualify for Medicare Advantage, check with our friends at Willamette Valley Benefits or a reliable insurance person to see what plans will be best for your healthcare situation.
- Switch from one Medicare Advantage plan to another.
- Switch from one Medicare Part D plan (for prescription drugs) to another.
- Enroll in a Medicare Part D plan if you didn’t do so when you were first eligible. You may get charged a late enrollment penalty.
Will my current plan renew automatically?
If you don’t want to make any changes to your coverage, no action is necessary during open enrollment.
However, even if you plan on keeping your current coverage, it’s a good idea to review your plan annually. The plan you chose last year may not be the best option for you in 2016 depending on your healthcare needs.
What major changes to Medicare should I know about?
Important changes to note include:
Prescription drug discounts. Medicare recipients who reach their coverage limit for prescription drugs encounter a gap in coverage, known as the “donut hole,” which extends until they’ve spent up to a certain threshold. Be sure to check with your insurance person as the gap has slowly narrowed over the past several years.
Changes to Medicare Advantage plans. Nearly a third of Medicare recipients are enrolled in Medicare Advantage plans. However, because providers change their available coverage options annually, it’s important to review what your plan will cover for 2016.
Whether you’re enrolling in Medicare for the first time or making changes to your current coverage, a wellness visit to your Portland Medicare doctor is the perfect way to start the New Year. Contact Northwest Primary Care to learn more about the Medicare services we offer.