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Boscola Bulletin

Medicare Open Enrollment

Medicare Enrollment FormThe open enrollment period for Medicare begins today and runs through Dec. 7.  During this time, beneficiaries will have the opportunity to make changes to their current Medicare coverage, as well as join, switch, or drop Medicare Advantage or Prescription Drug Coverage plans.

The PA Department of Aging, wants to remind Medicare enrollees about the free health insurance counseling Pennsylvania offers. APPRISE is designed to help Pennsylvanians understand and enroll in Medicare. Counselors are specially trained staff and volunteers who can provide objective, easy-to-understand information free of charge. APPRISE counselors can help individuals understand Medicare eligibility, enrollment, financial assistance programs, coverage options, among other Medicare-related topics.

APPRISE Counselors are available locally through the Lehigh County Area Agency on Aging at 610-782-3034 or Northampton County Area Agency on Aging at 610-829-4540. Click here for a list of APPRISE Counseling Sites in Lehigh and Northampton Counties. Additionally, individuals can call the toll-free APPRISE Helpline at 1-800-783-7067, which is available Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. – 4 p.m.

Listed below are some things to keep in mind while you are choosing your Medicare coverage.

1. Fall Open Enrollment occurs each year from October 15 through December 7.

  • Any change you make during Fall Open Enrollment will take effect January 1.
  • In most cases, Fall Open Enrollment is the only time you can pick a new Medicare Advantage or Part D plan.
  • If you have Medicare Advantage, you can also switch to Original Medicare. To get drug coverage, you should also join a Part D plan.
  • Depending on where you live, you may be able to buy a Medigap policy, which helps pay Original Medicare costs. Limitations apply as to who can buy a Medigap and when.

2. Review your current Medicare health and drug coverage. If you are dissatisfied with your coverage for next year, make changes during Fall Open Enrollment.

  • If you have Original Medicare, take a look at next year’s Medicare & You handbook to know your Medicare costs and benefits for the upcoming year.
  • Even if you are satisfied with your current Medicare coverage, look at other Medicare options in your area that may better suit your individual needs in the upcoming year. For example, check to see if there is another plan in your area that will offer you better health and/or drug coverage at a more affordable price. Research shows that people with Part D could lower their costs by shopping among plans each year. There could be another Part D plan in your area that covers the drugs you take with fewer restrictions and/or lower prices.


3. Help is out there.

  • In addition to contacting the APPRISE counselors, you may also access Medicare’s Plan Finder tool if you need help finding Part D plans. The Plan Finder tool compares plans based on the drugs you need, the pharmacy you visit, and your drug costs.
  • If you want to join a Medicare Advantage Plan, call 1-800-MEDICARE to find out which plans are in your area. When you receive the list of plans, check the plans’ websites or call them to see which best fits your needs.
  • If you research a plan online, also call the plan itself to confirm what you have learned. Make sure the plan includes your doctors and hospitals in its network. Confirm that the plan covers all your drugs, and that your pharmacies are in the preferred network.

4. If you are dissatisfied with a Medicare Advantage Plan you choose during Fall Open Enrollment, you can change your plan during the Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment Period (MA OEP).

  • The MA OEP occurs each year from January 1 through March 31, with changes taking effect on the first of the month following the month you enroll. During this time, you can switch from one Medicare Advantage Plan to another, or switch from a Medicare Advantage Plan to Original Medicare with or without a Part D prescription drug plan.

5. Understand the difference between Fall Open Enrollment and Open Enrollment for the state or federal Marketplaces.

  • The federal Marketplaces offer annual open enrollment periods for uninsured and underinsured Americans. This enrollment period may overlap with Fall Open Enrollment. The Marketplaces are typically not meant for people with or eligible for Medicare.
  • If you have or are eligible for Medicare, you should only use the Fall Open Enrollment Period (October 15 through December 7) to make changes to your Medicare coverage.

Medicare Open Enrollment News

Shop & Compare Plans Now with the New Medicare Plan Finder

AssistanceThe Plan Finder is now mobile-friendly, so you can use it on your smart phone, tablet, and desktop! It will guide you step-by-step through the process of comparing plans. It has a simple, easy-to-read design to help you learn about and select options that are best for your health needs.

Anyone can use the Plan Finder to browse Medicare coverage options and available plans. You can choose a more personalized experience by creating or logging into your online account…read more

You’ve got questions about Medicare’s 2020 fall enrollment period. We’ve got answers.

Medicare’s fall open enrollment, which runs from Oct. 15 through Dec. 7, is an opportunity to review your benefits and make changes in time for 2020. But signing up or reviewing your coverage can seem daunting.

Last year, we asked Inquirer readers what they’d like to know about Medicare and brought an excellent list of questions to a panel of experts. For 2020, we’ve updated our primer on Medicare with new details you should know and expanded our list of enrollment experts...read more

Mark your calendars!

Affordable Care Act (ACA) enrollment evenI will be hosting a free Affordable Care Act (ACA) enrollment event from 10am to 1pm on Thursday, December  12, 2019 in my District Office located at One East Broad Street, Suite 120, Bethlehem, PA 18018. During the three-hour session, healthcare consumers will have access to expert help signing up for ACA coverage as well as Medicare. The open enrollment period ends December 15. Participants will need documentation to verify his or her annual income (a W-2 or pay stub) and a driver’s license or other government-issued photo ID. More information willbecome available at a later date – if you have immediate questions, please do not hesitate to contact one of my offices for assistance.

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Offices of State Senator Lisa M. Boscola

www.senatorboscola.com

BETHLEHEM OFFICE
One East Broad Street
Suite 120
Bethlehem, PA 18018
(610) 868-8667
Fax: (610) 861-2184
Toll-free: 1-877-535-1818
EASTON OFFICE
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(610) 250-5627
(610) 250-5629
Fax: (610) 250-1889
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Senate Box 203018
Harrisburg, PA 17120-3018
(717) 787-4236
Fax: (717) 783-1257
Senate of PA:
1-800-364-158 (TTY)