A short, little post today to remind you that the Medicare Open Enrollment period begins and ends earlier this year than in the past. The dates are from 15 October 2011 through 7 December 2011.
So mark your calendars if you want to make changes to your coverage. If not, you need do nothing but it's a good time of year to check your health coverage and make sure all is in order.
By now, anyone who uses Medicare has probably received the annual Medicare & You 2012 handbook that is packed with useful information. If you have not received it, there is an online version here [pdf]. If you are new to Medicare this year, the handbook has extensive information on how to make the necessary choices and sign up.
That said, Medicare is complicated and although I have some quibbles, the people at medicare.gov should be congratulated for making the handbook and their website as clear and understandable as possible given the regulations they have to work with.
It has been my experience, too, that the customer service people at the end of the 1.800.MEDICARE telephone number are usually knowledgeable and helpful – and I've rarely had to wait longer than a minute or two to speak with a representative.
You can also call your State Health Assistance Program (SHIP) with questions about Medicare, Medigap coverage, long-term care and more. You will find phone numbers for individual states here or, if you have received the new Medicare & You 2012 handbook, the telephone number for your state is on the back cover.
The Affordable Care Act (ACA), passed by Congress in 2010, gives Medicare recipients several new benefits. Prescription drug prices are slightly lower and everyone gets a free, annual wellness visit with their physician together with a fairly long list of free preventive services such as annual flu shots, screenings for various cancers, HIV, diabetes and more. You can see the list here.
Even if you are happy with your supplemental, prescription drug and/or Medicare Advantage coverages, the open enrollment period is still a good time to make sure everything you need is in order.
Now, although all this is important for old folks to keep track of, it is pretty dry stuff so to lighten up a bit, here is funny and sorta true piece of wisdom from Connecticut physician's assistant, Sue Atkins, that seems applicable today:
“This is a deceptively simple philosophy,” says Sue, “that I have been working on and refining for most of my life. I am delighted to say that I believe I have refined it down to its essence sufficiently to share it with a select band of friends that may appreciate its elegance and simplicity.”
No new story at The Elder Storytelling Place today. More next week.