What is Medicare Open Enrollment Period?
Medicare is a federally funded health care program for seniors 65 years old and older, or disabled people under 65 years, who received social security disability payments for 24 months or more. The original Medicare have two parts, A and B with part A covering hospital benefits and part B covering Doctor visits. In addition to these benefits, there is a part D benefit which was later added to help seniors with their prescription costs. The part D plans are provided through private health insurance companies that have a contract with Medicare. Moreover, there is a Part C to Medicare called Medicare Advantage which covers all the benefits covered under A,B and D plus additional benefits like Dental,Vision,and Hearing and many plans have no premiums.
There is always co-pays and deductibles associated with original medicare, but seniors and medicare beneficiaries have the option to buy a Medicare supplement plan that can cover those out of pocket costs. These medicare supplement plans are offered by private health insurance companies such as United health care, Mutual of Omaha etc. There are several plans available in every state in the United States, but all plans have the same set of covered benefits and the only difference is the premiums which depends on the company.
In addition to the savings available to Medicare beneficiaries, there is another important cost saving available to seniors through the Medicare advantage plans which have very low co-pays or no co-pays for many services and some even include dental and vision services at no cost to the medicare beneficiaries. The Medicare part C plans are mostly in the form of an HMO, PPO or PFFS. With the HMO plans, they can only be used at network providers with only few exceptions such as in case of an emergency. However, the PPO plans can be used in both network and out of network but members save a lot more by going to the network providers. The PFFS are similar to original medicare but some have networks as well which often restrict the member's ability to go to any doctor since the doctors have to agree to the plans terms and conditions.
In conclusion, the medicare open enrollment starts from October 15th to December 7th of every year. During this period, Medicare beneficiaries have the option to select new part C plans, or drug plans, change existing plans without any enrollment restrictions for the most part. There are lots of information available to seniors through the CMS website and through individual agents and agencies. Talk to an agent and see if you can save some money on your health care costs. Some of these Medicare Advantage plans even have $0 premiums in many counties and states.