DENVER - The annual Medicare Open Enrollment has started and runs through Dec. 7. This is the time when more than 60 million people with Medicare across the country can review health and drug plans, and make changes to their health care coverage for next year, based on their financial and medical needs. Why is it important to compare plans for next year? Because plans change, and a person’s health care needs or situation may have changed too.
Medicare beneficiaries and their families can get free, personalized counseling on Medicare open enrollment and the options available through the Colorado State Health Insurance Assistance Program (Colorado SHIP) or by calling 888-696-7213. Don’t wait until the last days of open enrollment, as it becomes more difficult to get assistance the closer it gets to Dec. 7.
“There are new choices and more options available this year for Medicare beneficiaries,” said Kimberly Latta, Director of the Colorado SHIP. “But all of those choices can be overwhelming, so I encourage everyone to take advantage of the free counseling offered through our Colorado SHIP or all of the other help and information, like the Medicare Plan Finder Tool, available through Medicare.gov.”
During Open Enrollment, Medicare beneficiaries can compare coverage options like Original Medicare and Medicare Advantage, and choose health and prescription drug plans for 2021. Medicare health and drug plan costs and covered benefits can change from year-to-year. CMS urges Medicare beneficiaries to review their coverage choices and decide on the options that best meet their health needs.
Shopping for plans with the Medicare Plan Finder
You can do the following when using the Medicare Plan Finder.
- Shop for drug plans (Part D) and Medicare Advantage plans
- Compare pricing between Original Medicare, Medicare prescription drug plans, Medicare Advantage plans, and Medicare Supplement Insurance (Medigap) policies
- Compare coverage options on smartphones and tablets
- Compare up to three drug plans or three Medicare Advantage plans side-by-side
- Get plan costs and benefits, including which Medicare Advantage plans offer extra benefits
- Build a personal drug list and find Medicare Part D prescription drug coverage that best meets your needs
Remember, when comparing plans, look at the estimated "Yearly Drug & Premium Cost." A plan with the lowest premium may not always provide the lowest total cost to you. Think about what benefits matter to you and find a Medicare plan that fits your needs. Visit Medicare.gov through December 7 to compare plans and make any changes. If you decide to change plans, your new coverage will start January 1.
New Options for People with Diabetes and ESRD
Medicare beneficiaries can join a prescription drug plan that will offer many types of insulin at a maximum copayment of $35 for a 30-day supply. More than 1,600 Medicare Advantage and Part D prescription drug plans are participating in the Part D Senior Savings Model for 2021. Reviewing available plans for 2021 can lead to savings for many people. CMS has added a new “Insulin Savings” filter on Medicare Plan Finder to display plans that will offer the capped out-of-pocket costs for insulin. Beneficiaries can use the Medicare Plan Finder to view plan options and look for a participating plan in their area that covers their insulin at no more than a $35 monthly copay.
Also new this year, Medicare beneficiaries with End-Stage Renal Disease (ESRD) can now buy a Medicare Advantage plan for coverage in 2021.
Be on Guard for Scams and Identity Theft
Colorado SHIP and the CMS urge people with Medicare to practice safety measures to guard against identity theft during open enrollment. Beneficiaries should not give their Medicare card or Medicare number to anyone except their doctor or people they know should have it. CMS removed Social Security numbers from all Medicare cards last year to reduce fraud and protect beneficiaries from identity theft. Even with this change, people with Medicare should guard their Medicare card like they would a credit card. They should also check their Medicare claim summaries for errors and questionable bills and report any suspected fraud to the Colorado Senior Medicare Patrol (SMP) at 800-503-5190.
As part of this year’s open enrollment, Colorado SHIP and CMS also remind people with Medicare to get their flu shot and seek virtual assistance if they need it to enroll in a plan amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Don’t wait until the last minute. Today is the day - find a plan that’s best for you.
Colorado SHIP, housed in the Division of Insurance, part of the Colorado Department of Regulatory Agencies (DORA), helps Medicare enrollees navigate the Medicare system, including Medicare Advantage and Medigap plans. Medicare enrollees with questions about these items, or other concerns, can contact a Colorado SHIP Counselor at 888-696-7213.
About the Division of Insurance:
The Colorado Division of Insurance (DOI), part of the Department of Regulatory Agencies (DORA), regulates the insurance industry and assists consumers and other stakeholders with insurance issues. Visit dora.colorado.gov/insurance for more information or call 303-894-7499 / toll free 800-930-3745.
DORA is dedicated to preserving the integrity of the marketplace and is committed to promoting a fair and competitive business environment in Colorado. Consumer protection is our mission. Visit dora.colorado.gov for more information or call 303-894-7855 / toll free 800-886-7675.