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Your Medicare Plan Needs an Annual Checkup

Your Medicare Plan Needs an Annual Checkup

It’s time for Medicare recipients to give their coverage an annual checkup. The Medicare open enrollment period runs from October 15 – December 7. Open enrollment is the only time you can update your Medicare plan for coverage beginning January 1, 2020.

No matter if you’re enrolling for the first time or trying to keep your plan up-to-date, Medicare can be confusing. We’ve provided an overview of Medicare basics with some links to valuable resources. Gulf Winds Medicare Specialists are also available by appointment to walk you through your options during open enrollment and make sure that your plan is best meeting your needs.

What is Medicare?

Medicare is a national health insurance program started in 1966. It primarily provides health insurance for people aged 65 and older. It also provides insurance for younger people with disability status as determined by the Social Security Administration. Medicare covers over 60 million people across the United States.

There are four basic parts of Medicare insurance, Parts A (hospital), B (medical), C (Medicare Advantage) & D (prescription drugs). These different parts represent your two Medicare coverage options, an Original Medicare Plan or a Medicare Advantage Plan. Original Medicare (Parts A & B) allows you to use any doctor or hospital that accepts Medicare, anywhere in the United States. Medicare Advantage (Part C) gives you an alternative to Original Medicare.

Advantage plans offers many different health plans that are run by private insurance companies. These plans offer an “all in one” alternative to Original Medicare. They “bundle” plans include Part A, Part B, and usually Part D. Most plans also offer extra benefits like vision, hearing, dental and more. In most cases, you will need to use doctors who are in the plan’s network.

Whether you're interested in Original Medicare or a Medicare Advantage plan, there are a lot of coverage options.

What is Open Enrollment?

Open enrollment is the one time each year you can update your Medicare plan for coverage beginning January 1, 2020. The Medicare open enrollment period runs from October 15 – December 7. During this time, you can change from Original Medicare to a Medicare Advantage plan or vice versa. You can also select a new Medicare Advantage Plan and Part D plan.

Even if you like your current plan, open enrollment presents a great opportunity to make sure you’re getting the most out of Medicare. Health plans and costs change every year and so do your health needs. You should be comparing your current plan to other plans to make sure there’s not a better option for you. Remember, you’re not alone if you think this process is confusing and stressful. If you need help selecting a plan, meet with one of our Medicare Specialists. They will walk you through your options and make sure that your plan is best meeting your needs. You can schedule a free appointment today with no obligation to enroll.

How Do I Enroll in Medicare the First Time?

Generally, all persons 65 years of age or older that have been legal residents of the United States for at least 5 years are eligible for Medicare. If you already receive benefits from Social Security, you’ll be enrolled in Medicare Parts A & B automatically and don’t need to sign up. In this case, Medicare will send you a “Welcome to Medicare” packet 3 months before you turn 65. Please review these materials closely as there are still actions to take and deadlines to meet.

If you’re over 65 and not already getting Social Security, you need to sign up to get Medicare Parts A & B. You have 7 months to sign up for Medicare; the 3 months before your 65th birthday, your birthday month and 3 months after your birthday. You don’t have to sign up for Medicare if you have medical insurance from another provider, like your employer or a partner’s employer. In this case, you must sign up for Medicare within 8 months of this coverage dropping. If you don’t sign up for Medicare Parts A & B during these time periods, there are penalties applied.

Here are more details about initial enrollment.

Valuable Resources

-Apply for Medicare Online

-Medicare & You handbook provided by

-Your Year 1 Medicare checklist

-Schedule an appointment with your local Gulf Winds Medicare Specialists


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