Running from October 15 through December 7, 2015, the federal Medicare healthcare and prescription drug open enrollment period for 2016 coverage is the time when seniors who qualify as beneficiaries (age 65 and older) may select or switch to plans that fit them best.
Here are a few helpful terms to know as you review your coverage.
- Open enrollment: The only time each year when beneficiaries may change Advantage plans or opt in or out of Medicare; secondary insurance can be changed and replaced anytime throughout the year without penalty or pre-existing conditions.
- Medicare Part A: Covers inpatient care in hospital, hospice, nursing home (skilled nursing care), and home health care (but not long term care); free for most.
- Medicare Part B: Covers doctor’s visits, tests, and other outpatient care; charges a premium.
- Medicare Part C: Medicare Advantage plans let private companies offer both Part A and Part B benefits, often with fewer out-of-pocket costs than basic Medicare coverage; many charge a premium on top of the Part B premium.
- Medicare Part D: Prescription drug coverage purchased from a private company.
- Medigap: Supplemental insurance from private companies that covers the deductibles and co-insurance not paid by Original Medicare; plans run from A to N.
For official U.S. government information about Medicare, go to www.medicare.gov. Consult the “Medicare & You” handbook available online or mailed to each beneficiary’s home. To enroll or change plans, call 1-800-Medicare (633-4227).