Navigating through the Medicare system can be confusing, Part A, Part B, Medicare Advantage and choosing a drug plan – and which one fit you best this year might not be the best one next year.
Open Enrollment for Medicare starts on Oct. 15, 2017 and ends on Dec. 7, 2017. Coverage begins on Jan. 1, 2018.
The Watertown Senior Center has a SHINE (Serving Health Insurance Needs for Everyone) counselor who can help you wade through all the options and even sign you up for the right plan.
Last week, SHINE Counselor Dan Goldberg stopped by the Senior Center to give an overview of the Medicare system.
There are multiple parts of Medicare:
Part A – hospital insurance (for hospital stays, skilled nursing care and hospice care)
Part B – medical insurance (for doctors visits, outpatient procedures and preventative care)
Part C – also called Medicare Advantage (plans offered by private insurance companies and covers Part A and Part B; they have HMO and PPO options)
Part D – prescription drug coverage (everyone on Original Medicare (Part A) needs Part D because Part A does not include prescription drug coverage)
Goldberg said that Part D is a plan that could change if you get a new prescription.
“When you come see me I’ll put you in a drug plan that is the best fit for you today,” Goldberg said. “In June, you might get a new drug, and it will not be the best plan. I can try to get you an exemption (to move to a new plan without a penalty).”
He added that what plan you have may also change if you have a new diagnosis or condition.
Goldberg also tole those gathered at the Senior Center that everyone will get a new Medicare Card sometime between April 2018 and April 2019. The new cards will no longer have your Social Security number on it. Beware of anyone who asks for your Medicare Card information – Medicare officials will not ask for personal or private information for you to get your card. The new card will not change your coverages. In preparation make sure your mailing address is up to date (to update call 1-800-772-1213, TTY 1-800-325-0778 or go to www.ssa.gov/myaccount.
When you come for an appointment with a SHINE counselor you should bring:
• your Medicare card
• your Social Security Card
• any other medical cards you bring to a doctor’s appointment
• information you have about your current plan
• a list of prescription drugs including dosage and history
• if you came last year you can bring your drug plan printout
A SHINE counselor will be at the Watertown Senior Center, 31 Marshall St., Watertown, on Tuesday and Wednesday mornings starting Oct. 15. Sign up for an appointment with a SHINE Counselor by calling 617 972-6490 or stop by the front desk at the Watertown Senior Center. If appointments are filled, others may be available in other senior centers or at SHINE centers in Needham and Framingham.