Is it time for Medicare annual enrollment?

by Brenda Lyle

Open enrollment for Medicare is right around the corner. This is the one time per year that Medicare recipients can make changes to their health and drug plans. If this is your first rodeo (and even if it’s not), here’s a Medicare open enrollment Q & A to help you navigate your selections.

What is open enrollment?

During the annual election period (October 15 through December 7), Medicare plan enrollees can reevaluate their coverage (either original Medicare with supplemental drug coverage, or Medicare Advantage) and make changes or purchase new policies.

What is the difference between Medicare and Advantage Plans?

Medicare is the insurance an eligible recipient signs up for at age 65. It consists of part “A” hospitalization coverage and is free for most recipients. Part “B” is the coverage for doctor’s visits, lab tests and other outpatient care. The premium is currently $164.90 per month for most people. These two parts of your Medicare package cover 80% of your health care insurance costs. With “traditional” Medicare, you utilize Part A, Part B and then purchase a “medigap” or “supplement” plan and prescription drug coverage called Part “D.” Availability is based on your zip code and plans come with premiums that can be pricey. Traditional Medicare does not cover vision or dental expenses.

Alternately, Medicare Advantage Plans (aka Part C or Medicare replacement), can be far less expensive up front. They can have very low (or no) monthly premium and include vision and dental coverage AND your prescription drugs. But…while their low cost is attractive, out-of-pocket expenses are greater.

What’s the right plan for me?

One size definitely does NOT fit all. A Medicare agent who sells multiple plans can determine which combination of options is best for you. Your budget, health, prescription drugs and physician preferences all figure into the plan that’s best for you. If your situation changes, it’s best to review your plan.

Need help evaluating your options? On October 11, One Senior Place in Viera will present, “Medicare 101: What You Need to Know NOW.” Call 321-751-6771 to RSVP.

One Senior Place is a marketplace for resources and provider of information, advice, care and on-site services for seniors and their families. Questions for this column are answered by professionals in nursing, social work, care management and in-home care. Send questions to, call 321-751-6771 or visit One Senior Place, The Experts in Aging. Brenda Lyle is a Certified Care Manager and Certified Dementia Practitioner with One Senior Place, Greater Orlando.