This post was coauthored by Jane Martin, RT and Kristen Szymonik BS, RRT, AE-C
Medicare Open Enrollment starts this Friday, October 15, 2021! Maybe you're already on Medicare, or maybe you're getting ready to enroll for the first time. Either way, it's a good time to take a close look at the options for plans and find the one that is best for you. If you're happy with your current Medicare plan, you don't have to take any action. The open enrollment period ends after December 7, 2021.
Our friend and colleague, Mike Hess, has made an excellent video about this. Medicare Basics: Getting Ready for Open Enrollment 2021. In this 25-minute video Mike goes over what health care costs are covered under each plan, and includes several great resources.
With that said, this blog post is not about the specific plans but about a few other important aspects of enrolling in, or being on, Medicare.
Q: What if I miss taking action during open enrollment?
A: If you don't enroll or make changes during the open enrollment period, that doesn't necessarily mean that you are stuck with what you have—or don't have—until open enrollment next year. You might be able to make changes after the Medicare Open Enrollment Period by qualifying for a Special Enrollment Period (SEP).
Here are a few examples of how you may be eligible for a Special Enrollment Period:
- You have left your employer-based or union-based health insurance.
- You were once eligible for Medicaid, but now you're not.
- You just got out of jail.
- You lived outside the United States for a period of time but are now moving back.
- Your current health insurance plan is losing or ending its contract with Medicare.
Again, these are just a few examples, so if you need to make changes to your plan after December 7, 2021, check with Medicare to see if you qualify for a Special Enrollment Period. You can learn more about Special Enrollment Periods and the requirements for eligibility on the Medicare website.
Q: How can I protect myself from fraud?
A: Unfortunately, not everybody in this world is honest and out to help you. So, another thing you should know about Medicare is how to guard against Medicare-related fraud. Here are a few tips:
Think of your Medicare card like it's a credit card. If you get a call from somebody promising you things if you give them your Medicare Number—don't give them anything! Medicare will never contact you for your Medicare Number or other personal information unless you've called them first.
- Medicare will never call you to sell you anything.
- Medicare will never visit you at your home.
- Medicare can't enroll you over the phone unless you called them first.
Q: How does Medicare work with covering my oxygen, or other equipment, and maintenance?
A: Medicare coverage of respiratory equipment, especially oxygen, has undergone a lot of changes as policies have changed over time. If you are experiencing a problem with the supply or maintenance of your oxygen or other respiratory equipment, feel free to tell us. Here is a resource that may help you: The Medicare Rights Center.
We hope that Mike's video and this blog post will help you prepare for this Medicare open enrollment period, October 15 - December 7, 2021. Let's talk! I look forward to hearing from you!