I read an article in USA Today by Steve Weisman titled How to spot and avoid Medicare open-enrollment scams. Being in my field of expertise, I thought this would be a great article. I am all for educating seniors on how to protect themselves with insurance, the correct Medicare supplement (Medigap Plan), and how they can protect themselves from scammers that can financially hurt or even destroy them. However, some of the background information is erroneous Medicare Information and is not factually correct.
“Open Enrollment Period”
The article’s first sentence is wrong “The open enrollment period for Medicare. ….began on Oct 15 and continues until Dec 7. This period is not the open enrollment period but the annual election period. There are different available enrollment periods if you, for example, are aging into Medicare or are getting Part B for the first time, which also affects your Medicare supplement eligibility. Suppose you were to cancel your Medicare supplement (Medigap) plan and want another one during the annual election period, depending on your state. You would likely have to pass an underwriting questionnaire to qualify for the new Medigap plan.
The second sentence is partially wrong. This is the only time during the year that people enrolled in Medicare can change their Medicare Health plans, supplemental insurance plans (Medigap), and prescription drug plans. This is the only time they can change their Medicare Advantage plans or Prescription Drug plans (unless they qualify for a particular election period, their Medigap (Medicare supplement) plans can be changed anytime throughout the year.
“Are You Satisfied”
The third sentence of the second paragraph states that if you are satisfied with your plans, you do not need to do anything. This is neither right nor wrong. However, it should be noted that one should pay attention to changes in their plans as they might not be clear as day to see, like formulary changes. What may have satisfied you for this year or even previous years may be changing for next year.
There is a lot of erroneous Medicare information floating around on the interwebs; find someone you can trust, and then use the trust but verify method, as this is your livelihood and not theirs.
Medicare has an annual publication, Medicare and You, that goes over these items and more. I am always available to help you with your questions about Medicare and obtaining proper and affordable Medicare Supplemental coverage.