The time is fast approaching when you can determine if the Medicare plan you are on this year is the best choice for you next year. Medicare plans can change benefits, their lists of covered drugs and, in the case of managed care plans, their provider networks. Medicare’s annual open enrollment period is designed to provide an opportunity for you to learn about these changes.
Medicare’s 2022 open enrollment period begins Oct. 15 and ends Dec. 7. However, well before then, you’ll be receiving mail from your current plan with its upcoming changes, advertisements from other companies sharing their benefits and cost information for your consideration, a 2023 Medicare & You handbook from the federal government and probably advertisements for Medicare seminars in your area sponsored by insurance company representatives. Try not to be overwhelmed!
Coming to the rescue is the Colorado State Health Insurance Assistance Program, also referred to as SHIP. It is funded by Medicare to provide accurate and unbiased plan information through public presentations and a team of trained volunteers. There is no charge for this individualized help and you can reach the Colorado SHIP office by calling 303-480-6835.
Additionally, 1-800-MEDICARE, a 24/7 hotline, is available to help you compare plans in your area, as well as an online tool called Medicare Compare at www.medicare.gov. All these tools are available to help you evaluate your options and choose the best plan for you in 2023 — that may be your current plan or a different plan. The choice is always up to you.
Let’s begin with a few first steps to take:
• Update your prescription list including name of medication, dosage and frequency. Talk to your doctor about your medication choices. Do you need a brand name or will a generic work as well for you? Is there a new medication your doctor recommends? After you update your list (especially if not all of your medications are filled at the same pharmacy), talk to your pharmacist about possible duplications (more than one drug for the same purpose unintentionally being used together) or potentially harmful interactions between medications.
• Are all the drugs you take covered by your current plan? Will they be covered by your current plan next year? You can check your plan’s website or call your plan to find out.
• Determine if your current plan’s benefits are meeting your needs.
• Reading your mail this time of year is very important, especially if it comes from your plan or a government agency (state or federal). Any changes to your coverage or assistance with the cost of your coverage will be sent to you in the mail. Plan on setting aside some time to at least read the highlights of the 2023 Medicare & You handbook. The new changes to Medicare are generally contained in the first few pages. A copy of this informative publication should reach you by mid-October.
Remember you don’t have to go through this decision-making process alone. In order to assist you in sorting through all of your choices and selecting the best plan, the Seniors’ Council of Douglas County is hosting a Medicare Open Enrollment presentation by Desiree Boelte, SHIP Program Manager, on Thursday, Oct. 6 at 10 a.m. at the Parker Library, 20105 East Mainstreet in Parker. Desiree will share information about the 2023 changes to Medicare, the plans available in Douglas County and answer any questions you may have about your upcoming choices. Please join us!
Gretchen Lopez is the chair of the Douglas County Seniors’ Council.
This column is hosted by the Seniors’ Council of Douglas County. For more information please visit www.MyDougCoSeniorLife.com, email DCSeniorLIfe@douglas.co.us or call 303-663-7681.