How to Navigate Medicare Enrollment

Medicare Open Enrollment

Senior Medicare Plans Deserve Close Attention

As if the months leading into the busy holiday season weren’t hectic enough, there’s another item to add to the family’s agenda: open enrollment for Medicare. If you care for a senior family member who receives Medicare benefits, you probably can’t afford to let this important time period go by without giving some close attention to his current plan as well as the others that are available. Before December 7, you will want to take stock of your senior loved one’s health care plan and make some important decisions about adjusting that plan to ensure affordable, high quality services throughout the following twelve months.

Your Plan May Be Changing

For about a year now, it has seemed as if everything in the health insurance field is topsy-turvy. The new year may be the starting point for yet more changes in your elderly family member’s insurance plan. The following are just a few changes that could be in line for his Plan D, Medigap, or Medicare Advantage plan:

  • Dropping his doctor from the network
  • Raising copayment and deductible amounts
  • Raising monthly premiums
  • Major changes in plans offered
  • Discontinuation of service in your location

Your senior should have received notification if any of these changes are planned, but that does not necessarily mean that the information reached you. Check to make sure that there are not going to be any surprises once the open enrollment period has ended.

Better Options May Be Available

Even if your loved one’s insurance plan is not changing, more affordable and higher quality service might be available. It’s easy to fall into the trap of simply opting into another year of the same service because it’s more convenient, but that decision could lock you into spending much more money on health insurance premiums and out-of-pocket payments over the course of the year than necessary. If you don’t feel confident researching your options, see if a professional can help you quickly sort through them. The savings and better care for your loved one will be worth the effort!

Communication is Key

Open enrollment for Medicare is just one area in which it is easy for seniors and their families to fail to communicate. When important mail notifications, phone calls, or physical needs “fall through the cracks,” there is unnecessary expense, inconvenience, or even danger to the senior. If you feel this is a problem in your case, an in-home caregiver can help. By keeping an eye on correspondence, health signs, and prescription routines, this professional can make sure that those making the decisions for your beloved senior get all the information they need. It’s all part of the team effort that is so effective at helping an elderly family member live comfortably in his or her own home as long as possible.

Photo by bradleypjohnson

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About Tim Colling

Tim Colling is the founder and President of A Servant's Heart In-Home Care, which provided in-home caregiving services in San Diego County, and also of A Servant's Heart Geriatric Care Management, which provided
professional geriatric care management services and long term care placement services in San Diego County. Tim has more than 30 years of experience in management in a variety of industries. He held a Certified Care Manager credential from the National Academy of Certified Care Managers. Tim is also a Certified Public Accountant (retired), and received his Bachelor’s Degree in Accounting from California State University at San Diego. In addition to writing blog posts here for the Servant’s Heart blog, Tim also is a regular contributor to HealthLine.com and to FamilyAffaires.com as well as blogs of other eldercare services provider companies. Finally, Tim is also the president of A Servant's Heart Web Design and Marketing, which provides home care marketing as well as website design and online marketing for those who serve the elderly and their families.