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Ohio Department of Aging Boomerang: It all comes back to you!

Boomerang: It all comes back to you!

My Future - November 2009

The Five Most Important Things to Know About Medicare Rx Open Enrollment
Knowing and Exercising Your Options Can Ensure Your Coverage Works for You

If you are new to Medicare, it can seem very overwhelming with its multiple timelines and coverage options. Even long-time beneficiaries have lots of questions during open enrollment. Can I stay with my existing coverage? Has that coverage changed? If I change plans, when does the new coverage kick in? When do I have to make all these decisions? As is often said, knowledge is power, and it certainly rings true about Medicare. There's no doubt that understanding it will boost your confidence during the coverage selection process.

The Ohio Department of Insurance's Ohio Senior Health Insurance Information Program (OSHIIP) points out the five most important things beneficiaries should know about the Medicare open enrollment period.

Knowledge is power, and it certainly rings true about Medicare.

  1. Open enrollment occurs each year from Nov. 15 to Dec. 31. During this time, people on Medicare can select one of several coverage options: Original Medicare; original Medicare with a Medicare supplement or stand-alone prescription drug plan; or a Medicare Advantage Plan.
  2. All Medicare beneficiaries qualify for prescription drug coverage through a Part D prescription drug plan or Medicare Advantage Plan with drug coverage. For a list of available Part D and Medicare Advantage plans, visit www.medicare.gov.
  3. People with limited incomes can get help paying for a Part D plan through the low-income subsidy, or "extra help" program.
  4. Plans can vary in benefits, formularies, networks and out-of-pocket expenses - not only among each other, but from year to year. Even if you were happy with your coverage this year, check to be sure that things haven't changed in your plan or that another plan may better suit your needs in 2010.
  5. If you enroll in a different plan, coverage begins Jan. 1.

OSHIIP provides free and unbiased Medicare information, enrollment assistance and outreach services to all Ohioans who are eligible for Medicare. Call OSHIIP at 1-800-686-1578 Monday through Friday, 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Visit www.insurance.ohio.gov to download a free copy of the "Shopper's Guide to Medicare Supplemental Insurance and Medicare Options" (also available by calling).

For hands-on help, attend one of OSHIIP's many statewide Medicare Check-up events for free information and insurance counseling assistance. Visit the Web site above to find an event in your community. Bring with you a list of your prescriptions drugs, dosages and preferred pharmacy information, as well as any information on pension, VA or other medical care benefits you receive.

The staff of Boomerang thanks the Ohio Department of Insurance and the Ohio Senior Health Insurance Information Program for contributing to this article.