For the media

Use this Medicare checklist for open enrollment

By The Health News Team | November 11, 2023
Medicare Part C document on a clipboard

Medicare’s open enrollment period — Oct. 15 to Dec. 7 — is when people with Medicare can change their plan for the next year. It’s the best time for Medicare enrollees to read their coverage documents and make sure their plan for the upcoming year meets their needs.

Medicare can make changes each year to the benefits and costs of its health and drug, known as Part C and Part D, plans. Changes could be lower copays, new supplemental benefits or changes to prescription drug costs. Information about these changes become publicly available starting in October of each year, and the changes generally go into effect Jan. 1 of the next year.

“Take time to consider what matters most for you,” says Don Truong, director of sales at Sharp Health Plan. “For Medicare enrollees wanting step-by-step guidance, this checklist can help you decide whether to keep your current plan or choose a new one.”

Medicare open enrollment checklist

  1. Mark your calendar.
    From Oct. 15 to Dec. 7, you can make changes to your plan for 2024. If you decide you’re happy with your current plan, you don’t need to do anything.

  2. Check if your plan benefits will change in 2024.
    In September, you should have received your Annual Notice of Change in the mail from your Medicare plan. This document tells you about any changes to your plan benefits and costs, including medical care and drug coverage. It’s designed to be a quick and easy read, showing side-by-side comparisons of this year and next year.

  3. Think about what care you may need next year.
    Have you or a loved one on your plan been recently diagnosed with a new health condition, or do you intend to have surgery or expect to start a new prescription drug next year? Keep these things in mind when making your decision.

  4. Make sure your doctors are still in your network.
    The providers and facilities affiliated with your network and medical group can change over time. It’s a good idea to double-check that the providers you rely on are still part of your network.

  5. If you are leaning toward changing your plan, look at quality.
    Every year, Medicare evaluates plans based on a five-star rating system. The rating system helps consumers assess Medicare health plan options for overall quality and performance — five stars means excellent performance. Visit Medicare’s official website to see health and drug plans’ quality star ratings in your area.

With a growing number of Medicare plan options, the decision to keep or change your Medicare plan can feel overwhelming. Luckily, there are plenty of trusted community resources that offer free expert advice.

“For free local health insurance counseling about Medicare, Californians can contact the Health Insurance Counseling and Advocacy Program hotline at 1-800-434-0222,” Truong says. “Sharp Health Plan also offers free online seminars about how Medicare works and the benefits of Sharp Direct Advantage®, the highest-rated Medicare Advantage plan in California for 2024."

Learn more about Medicare health insurance at Sharp HealthCare; get the latest health and wellness news, trends and patient stories from Sharp Health News.

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