October 4, 2019

Medicare Open Enrollment Starts Oct. 15

Medicare’s Open Enrollment Period runs October 15 through December 7 and is the time of year when you can make changes to your Medicare coverage. You can make as many changes as you need to your Medicare coverage during Medicare’s Open Enrollment. The last change you make will take effect on January 1, 2020.

Take action to make sure your coverage will meet your needs in 2020.

1.    Know the changes you can make during Medicare’s Open Enrollment.

The changes you can make include:

  • Joining a new Medicare Advantage Plan or Part D prescription drug plan
  • Switching from Original Medicare to a Medicare Advantage Plan
  • Switching from a Medicare Advantage Plan to Original Medicare (with or without a Part D plan)

Call 1-800-MEDICARE or use www.medicare.gov to make changes.

 Original Medicare

  • Medicare coverage directly through federal government
  • Includes Part A (hospital insurance) and Part B (medical insurance)
  • Drug coverage through separate stand-alone Part D plan
  • Can see any provider who accepts Medicare

Medicare Advantage

  • Medicare coverage through private health insurance plan
  • Includes Parts A, B, and usually D benefits
  • May cover certain services that Original Medicare doesn’t, like dental cleanings or a gym membership
  • You usually have to see an in-network provider to receive covered services at the lowest cost

Part D (prescription drug coverage)

  • Stand-alone Part D plan or part of a Medicare Advantage Plan
  • Covered drugs and costs vary by plan
  • Preferred network pharmacies offer the lowest costs

2.    Review your coverage for 2020.

Medicare Advantage and Part D plans usually change each year. Make sure that your drugs will still be covered next year and that your providers and pharmacies will still be in the plan’s network.

If you have Original Medicare, visit www.medicare.gov or read the 2020 Medicare & You handbook to learn about Medicare’s benefits for the upcoming year.

If you have a Medicare Advantage Plan or a stand-alone Part D plan, read your plan’s Annual Notice of Change (ANOC) and/or Evidence of Coverage (EOC).

Explore other plan options in your area. You may find a cheaper plan that meets your health care and prescription drug needs. Research shows you can lower your costs by shopping around.

3.    Know who to contact if you have questions.

State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP): Contact your SHIP if you have questions about any notices you receive. SHIP counselors can help you review your options and pick a plan that meets your needs.

Senior Medicare Patrol (SMP): Contact your SMP if you receive any notices that seem suspicious. SMP representatives can teach you how to spot and protect yourself from potential Medicare fraud.

Medicare Advantage Plan/Part D plan: Contact a plan directly if you have questions about its benefits, coverage, or costs. If you do not receive your Annual Notice of Change (ANOC) and/or Evidence of Coverage (EOC), contact your plan to request copies.


 Senior Health Insurance Information Program

 Senior Medicare Patrol

Local SHIP contact information Local SMP contact information
SHIP toll-free: 1-800-224-6330 SMP toll-free: 1-866-726-2916
SHIP email: SMP email:  kathleen.pursell@dhs.arkansas.gov
SHIP website: https://insurance.arkansas.gov/pages/consumer-services/senior-health/ SMP website: https://humanservices.arkansas.gov/about-dhs/daabhs/asmp
To find a SHIP in another state:

Call 877-839-2675 or visit ww.shiptacenter.org.

To find an SMP in another state:

Call 877-808-2468 or visit ww.smpresource.org.

This document was supported, in part, by grant numbers 90SATC0001 and 90MPRC0001 from the Administration for Community Living (ACL), Department of Health and Human Services, Washington, D.C. 20201.


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