Tuesday, October 12, 2021

Medicare Open Enrollment starts October 15th and Medicare beneficiaries have until December 7th to review their health coverage options and make changes that will take effect on January 1, 2022. If you are happy with your current coverage, you do not have to make any changes but taking the time to explore your options could save you money. Sometimes your health plans change and it isn’t clear how those changes will affect the health care you receive for the coming year. Open Enrollment is your chance to review any changes in coverage or to get help understanding what these changes will mean for you in 2022.

Is Your Part D Prescription Drug Plan Working for You?

Medicare Part D helps cover the cost of your prescription drugs and many shots and vaccines. Each fall enrollees receive an Annual Notice of Change from their prescription drug plan provider that includes any changes in coverage, costs and other information that will be implemented in January.

Some of the changes could include:

  • Cost of the plan premium, deductible, and copayments
  • The list of drugs the plan covers
  • The classification of certain drugs which could affect your out-of-pocket costs

One of the best ways to review your Part D plan options is with the Medicare Plan Finder. The Medicare Plan Finder on Medicare.gov lets you compare and enroll in a Part D Prescription Drug Plan. The Plan Finder lets you enter your drug information so that you can see an estimate of drug costs for the year. You can see how much of each drug price is covered and whether your pharmacy is giving you the best price for your medications.

Original Medicare vs Medicare Advantage (Part C)

You can choose how you get your Medicare coverage, and you have a choice between Original Medicare and Medicare Advantage plans.

  • Original Medicare includes Part A and Part B. You can add a Part D prescription plan and a Medigap plan or supplemental insurance coverage.
  • Medicare Advantage is a bundled plan, offered by Medicare-approved private companies, that includes Part A, Part B, and usually your Part D prescription coverage. Medicare Advantage plans can include extra benefits that Medicare usually doesn’t cover like dental, vision, and hearing.

Your choice between Original Medicare and Medicare Advantage can affect the doctors you can see and where you go for your health care. Some people save more money with Original Medicare while for other people, Medicare Advantage plans lead to lower costs. Medicare Advantage plans can be compared on the Medicare Plan Finder to help you choose between Original Medicare and Medicare Advantage.

Are There Benefits That Can Help Me Save on Medicare Costs?

You are most likely being bombarded with advertisements and mailings promising cost savings and free services, but it can be overwhelming and confusing to know if these programs actually do what they claim to do.

Two programs that are available to save on Medicare costs are:

Medicare Savings Programs – a State Medicaid program that can help to pay Medicare premiums, and possibly deductibles and coinsurance

Extra Help (Part D) – a program that helps pay Medicare prescription drug program costs like premiums, deductibles, and coinsurance

Where Can I Get Help?

If you would like assistance reviewing your options on the Plan Finder, Senior Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP) counselors are available to guide you.

The Senior Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP) provides local, in-depth and objective insurance counseling and assistance to Medicare-eligible individuals, their families and caregivers.

There are SHIP sites in each of AgeGuideā€™s eight counties region:

  • DuPage County: DuPage County Department of Community Services: (630) 407-6500
  • Grundy County: Grundy County Health Department: (815) 941-3121
  • Kane County: Senior Services Associates, Aurora: (630) 897-4035; Elgin: (847) 741-0404
  • Kankakee County: Catholic Charities, Diocese of Joliet: (815) 933-0111 ext. 266
  • Kendall County: Senior Services Associates: (630) 553-5777
  • Lake County: Catholic Charities, Archdiocese of Chicago: (847) 546-5733
  • McHenry County: Senior Services Associates: (815) 356-7457
  • Will County: Senior Services of Will County: (815) 740-4225



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