We never really need an excuse to talk Medicare, Medicare supplement insurance (Medigap plans), prescription drug plans, or just about anything else pertaining to the seemingly endless options and complexities when it comes to senior living. However, today we’re not just focusing on the comparing Medigap insurance rates or the general pros and cons of opting for Social Security early. The open enrollment period for Medicare has just kicked off (October 15th), and there are some big-time changes that we have to focus on. These Medicare changes have been advertised, but not nearly enough, and if you didn’t catch it on the news or check out the right website, you may have missed it, and missing it could cause some problems. Heck, even if you know about it, you might have to deal with some problems.

Date Changes to Open Enrollment Period
In order to avoid a mad rush (or maybe to just keep us on our toes), the Federal Government announced that the open enrollment period for Medicare has been changed. In the past, seniors have had until December 31st to enroll. That’s not the case anymore. If you’re planning on enrolling, you have to get it done by December 7th:

“‘What they found in the past is that people would shop around and wait to the last moment to make decisions and there would be an influx of enrollments that would take place the last week of December,’ said Jeffrey Collins, spokesman for Fidelis Care, a Queens-based nonprofit that offers Medicare plans for low-income people. ‘It would create a little bit of chaos in the marketplace.’ (from Insurance News)

Well, we all know the last thing we need is more “chaos in the marketplace,” but this does significantly reduce seniors’ time to make a decision on the Medicare plans that work for them. If you’re one of the seniors in the know, make sure to tell your friends and family, because those in charge of getting the word out simply haven’t done a good job of it.

“a study by done by UnitedHealthcare and the National Council on Aging, which found less than 10% of the 1,500 seniors surveyed knew when the new open enrollment period began, and only 3% were aware of the end date.” (from Fox Business)

Getting Dumped
A somewhat under-the-radar open enrollment deadline isn’t the only change that those seeking Medicare in 2012 have to deal with. Some seniors across the country are simply finding that the coverage they’ve grown accustomed to simply might not be there anymore:

“Whether you are 16 or 66, getting dumped is a humiliating and frustrating experience. Last week, some residents of my county received a letter from their insurance company saying that their Medicare managed care plan will no longer be offered here next year. Yep. Dumped by Anthem Blue Cross.” (from Huffington Post)

The “dumpee” from the Huffington Post article is not alone. Seniors all over the United States are finding that some insurers aren’t providing certain coverage for Medicare beneficiaries anymore. Along with the change in enrollment deadline, it’s making things a little bit too “interesting” on the Medicare front for some.

Don’t worry, though. If you stay informed, you can stay out in front of these and other changes that can affect Medicare, Medigap, and your overall health coverage. Take some time to talk to someone in the field who can break down the new changes, the changes on the horizon, and who can lay out all of your options for you. Most of all, make sure you’re getting information that applies to your specific health needs and your specific financial situation.

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