Review Medicare coverage during open enrollment to save money

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

couple at computer

With rising drug prices, many Medicare plans may raise premiums, deductibles, and other costs by large amounts. They are free to do this. And you are free to take your business elsewhere. This is why it's important to review your options for coverage during Medicare's open enrollment period.

Medicare's open enrollment period began on October 15 and continues until December 7, 2015. During open enrollment, current Medicare recipients and people who are new to Medicare can review and update their Medicare plan, including Part D prescription drug coverage.

Medicare coverage can be difficult to understand, so the National Council on Aging (NCOA) recommends that all people with Medicare use a 6-step checklist during open enrollment.

6-step checklist to review Medicare coverage:

  1. Understand your current Medicare coverage and costs: Gather all the open enrollment information you’ve received so you know your coverage, premium costs, coinsurance, and copayments. Add up your total out-of-pocket costs for 2015.  Click here for a table explaining how much you will pay for Medicare Part A and B coverage in 2016 (as compared to 2015). 
  2. Get educated: Understand what’s available, so you can make an informed choice for your situation. NCOA’s free My Medicare Matters® website provides comprehensive, easy-to-understand information about Medicare and will even help you evaluate your coverage options through a Medicare QuickCheck®.
  3. Make a list: What is most important to you—coverage, doctors, medicines, hospitals, pharmacy networks—and do you anticipate any new or changing health needs in the coming year?
  4. Compare your options: Use the Medicare Plan Finder on to compare policies in your area. Pay attention to the Star Ratings for each plan. Remember, the best choice for you may not be the plan that has the lowest monthly premium.
  5. See if you qualify for Extra Help: Depending on your income, you may be eligible for programs to help you pay your health care costs. Visit NCOA’s BenefitsCheckUp® to complete a free screening for programs like Medicare Extra Help and the Medicare Savings Programs.
  6. Make a budget: Consider how health costs fit into your overall spending. Use the tools on NCOA’s EconomicCheckUp® to make a budget for the coming year. Don’t forget to include other health expenses like dental, vision, hearing or premiums for supplemental insurance.

If you have additional questions, contact the Ohio State Health Insurance Information Program (OSHIIP) hotline at 1-800-686-1578, or attend one of OSHIIP’s Medicare Check-up days. Click here for dates.

 6-step checklist developed by National Council on Aging