How to sort out Medicare mail
By Joy Miller
Medicare Open Enrollment is in full swing through Dec. 7.
Medicare beneficiaries receive a lot of direct mail advertisements leading them to believe they are overpaying, can receive money back, and are missing out on benefits. Their hope is that you will inquire about their health plan and possibly join it.
Advertising by health insurance companies usually promotes Medicare Part C Advantage Plans. Taking a look at this mail may help you decide which companies are worth considering.
You might also receive official government lookalike mail, easily identified with fill in the blank forms or find the small print stating “this is not official government mail.” Any of these can be filed into the recycle bin.
Mail to watch for include the 2023 Medicare & You handbook, provided by the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services. On the inside cover, a summary of what’s new and important will be highlighted. In the back, a list of available health and drug plans in your state will be listed. In between those pages will be a summary of Medicare benefits, rights, protections and answers to frequently asked questions.
Another piece of important mail is provided by your current health plan, the Annual Notice of Change Letter. This informational letter includes changes such as monthly premiums, annual deductible, coinsurance costs and more.
Medicare Part D drug and Advantage plans make annual changes. Some of the changes include:
- New benefits being added
- Changes to the amount of coverage being offered for a service or item
- Changes to the plan premiums or in the way they are paid
- Changes in deductibles, copayments, or coinsurance
- New health care providers or pharmacies added to the list of participating providers
- Current providers who will be leaving the plan network
- Medications that have been added to the list of drugs covered by the plan (also called the plan formulary)
- Drugs removed from the formulary
- Drug tier changes
Reviewing and comparing health plans will help you make an informed decision about which plan meets your needs in the upcoming year. Some important questions to consider may include:
- Is the plan still affordable? Is there a more cost-effective plan?
- Is your medications still covered by the plan?
- Can you use the pharmacy or health facility of our preference?
Free, unbiased assistance is available with Senior Health Insurance Counseling for Kansans (SHICK). Counselors are available to answer your Medicare questions and assist with Medicare Part D drug and advantage plan comparisons. For more information or an appointment call 913-715-7000 or e-mail me at Joy.Miller@jocogov.org.
For upcoming Medicare classes, such as Medicare: An In-Depth Look or DIY Medicare Plan Comparison DIY, visit our list of classes and events.
Joy Miller is a Family and Community Wellness agent at the Johnson County K-State Research and Extension Office.