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Medicare Open Enrollment: What seniors should know
Dr. Marylou Buyse, senior medical director of senior markets for Highmark Inc.

It’s almost time for Medicare’s annual open enrollment period, which takes place from Oct. 15 through Dec. 7 every year. If you are a Medicare beneficiary, this is the time for you to review your existing Medicare Advantage and Part D prescription drug plans to determine whether you want to make any changes. It’s important that you take this opportunity to review your existing health care plan, because if you miss the deadline, you may have to wait until next year before you can make changes to your coverage.

In the fall, your current health plan will send you information about any changes that will be made to your existing coverage on Jan. 1. You should review this information to see if there are any changes that may impact you, such as the cost of premium, deductible, co-pays, drug formularies and provider networks. When selecting the plan that best fits your needs, it may be helpful to consider the following questions:

  • How much will you have to pay for premiums, deductibles, copays and out-of-pocket costs?
  • Will prescription drug coverage be included in your Medicare Advantage plan, or will you need to pick up a stand-alone policy for Part D prescription drug coverage?
  • Are the doctors and pharmacies you currently use in the plan’s network? If not, will your costs be higher?
  • Will you need a referral to see a specialist?
  • Are the drugs you currently take on the plan’s drug formulary?
  • What will your prescription drug costs?
  • Can you get prescriptions through the mail?
  • Is vision, dental and hearing coverage included in the plan?

There are many tools and resources available to help you understand your options. If you have questions about your existing coverage, contact your health plan for advice and help. Highmark Medicare Advantage members can receive personalized health support by talking to a Highmark Medicare Advisor or through an online comparison tool designed to help members find the right Medicare plan. You may also call 1-800-MEDICARE to have a customer service representative compare insurance plans on your behalf and mail you the results, or visit the ‘Medicare Plan Finder’ online comparison tool on Medicare.gov for side-by-side comparisons and helpful tips on choosing plans and providers.
Medicare open enrollment doesn’t have to be confusing.

By knowing your options and being well-informed, you can ensure that you choose the right Medicare plan to fit your health and lifestyle.

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