(BPT) - Medicare Open Enrollment, which happens every year from Oct. 15 through Dec. 7, marks an important time of year for people older than 65 to change their health plans and prescription drug coverage for the upcoming year. HealthCare Partners, the leading independent medical group in America with nearly 1,000 physicians across the country, provided these tips to help seniors who are reviewing their health plans.
1. Review changes to health plans
Seniors have many details to keep in mind during Medicare Open Enrollment. There are often changes to Medicare health plans from year to year, which is why seniors should carefully review their plans and understand changes that might affect their coverage. HealthCare Partners encourages seniors to consider the costs, benefits and choices of doctors and providers available. Seniors should also identify whether all of their necessary health care services and prescription medications are still covered under their current plans.
2. Know your enrollment period
It is important to distinguish Medicare Open Enrollment from other health-related enrollment periods. Some people might confuse Medicare Open Enrollment with the open enrollment period for the state and federal exchanges. These are different enrollment periods and are not associated with each other.
3. Consider Medicare Advantage
Medicare Open Enrollment serves as a valuable opportunity for seniors to change their coverage plans. Many might want to explore Medicare Advantage plans, which may fit their health care needs better. These plans could serve as good alternatives to Medicare Fee-For-Service. Medicare Advantage plans typically offer access to coordinated care - where primary care doctors and specialists work together as a team. According to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, Medicare Advantage plans can also provide protection against high out-of-pocket expenses. Some of these plans also offer personalized telephone care management, health coaching, and education and support from health care professionals.
4. Identify costs beyond premiums
Seniors should consider all of the costs associated with a plan, not just the monthly cost, also known as a premium. This includes co-pays, co-insurance and deductibles to understand how much will be spent on health care for the year.
5. Consider access to coordinated care
HealthCare Partners advises seniors to thoroughly review their coverage options to determine whether their coverage will provide access to coordinated care, a value-based form of health care in which a team of providers work together to promote preventative, high-quality care.
HealthCare Partners has successfully used this coordinated, patient-focused approach for years in an effort to provide its patients with the highest quality of care. This approach provides patients with access to a team of primary care physicians, specialists, care managers and other professionals who work together to manage all aspects of patients' care and overall health. This model of care has a strong focus on prevention and helping patients make the most of their health insurance benefits.
HealthCare Partners encourages seniors to learn more about Medicare Open Enrollment by visiting www.medicare.gov. You can also learn more about HealthCare Partners' services at www.healthcarepartners.com.