Medicare open enrollment period is Oct. 15 to Dec. 7

Once per year, every one who is eligible and wants to enroll or already is enrolled in a Medicare Part D plan and/or a Medicare Advantage Plan/Medicare Part C can either enroll without penalty during this time or review their current plan to see if it is still the most advantageous based on their current situation. For more information about the health and drug plans and Medigap policies described below, visit and click “Sign Up/Change Plans” then “Find health and drug plans” or call 1-800-MEDICARE.

What is Medicare Part D?

All people with Medicare are eligible to enroll in a Medicare drug plan without penalty during open enrollment. These plans are offered by insurance companies and other private companies approved by Medicare. These plans can either add coverage to Traditional Medicare or will be included in some Medicare Advantage Plans.

You should be aware that it is very important to compare drug plans since there are many things to consider such as if a plan will even cover your medication based on a formulary, costs of monthly premiums, deductibles and co-payments or coinsurance. This is just as important to do once a year as it is the first time you sign up for a plan because often the plans change or your medication changes and you risk not being enrolled in the most effective plan for you.

What are Medicare Advantage Plans or Medicare Part C?

Advantage plans are options that are approved by Medicare, but are run by private insurance companies. They are not Original or Traditional Medicare. They provide Medicare-covered benefits to their members, and may even offer extra benefits that Original Medicare doesn’t cover and may also have a drug plan included in the policy. These plans have special rules and so each member needs to be very careful when choosing an Advantage plan and be sure to follow such rules.

Please note that these plans are NOT secondary insurance/Medigap policies to Medicare. Medigap policies are entirely different policies that help to cover what Medicare does not. 

This information can be confusing for many people so you can always contact your local senior center for assistance or call the OSHIIP (Ohio Senior Health Insurance Information Program) hotline at 1-800-686-1578.

Kristi Vaughn

I am a Licensed Social Worker and owner of Adult Comfort Care: A Person Centered in-home assisted living resource for seniors and their families.  We serve Western Cuyahoga County.

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Volume 5, Issue 21, Posted 10:18 AM, 10.15.2013