iStock_000016561786_SmallEach year, Medicare conducts an Open Enrollment period, so that Medicare recipients can review their plans and make any necessary changes. This year, Open Enrollment begins on October 15 and runs through December 7. Because this can be a complicated or confusing process for many people, we’ve provided answers to some of the most common questions below.

I already filed for Medicare benefits when I turned 65. Why do I need to pay attention to Open Enrollment? Your initial Medicare eligibility did indeed begin on your 65th birthday. However, there is more than one Medicare plan, and the program makes changes to its various plans each year. The annual Open Enrollment period is your chance to review your current Medicare plan, assess your current and upcoming health care needs, and make a decision about whether your current Medicare plan is suiting your needs.

How do I know if my Medicare plan is right for me? Review your health care expenditures over the past year. Did you pay for a lot of out-of-pocket costs, such as prescription drugs? Talk to your personal physician about the state of your health. Is it likely that you will need expensive procedures next year? Are your current medications working for you, or does your doctor suspect you might need to try new drugs? Are those drugs covered by your current Medicare plan? Would another plan offer better coverage? The point is to assess your current and future health care needs, and compare Medicare plans to see if a change might benefit you.

What kind of changes can I make to my Medicare plan? During Open Enrollment, you can change from an original Medicare plan to a Medicare Advantage plan, or vice versa. You can also change from one Medicare Advantage plan to a different plan. After assessing your prescription drug coverage, you might also wish to add, drop, or change to a different Medicare Part D (prescription) plan.

I find this process confusing. How can I get help? Check the Medicare website, at www.Medicare.gov for answers to common questions, and for more information on your health care plans. Pay attention to any notices you receive in the mail, and talk to your personal physician. If you have questions or need assistance, contact Mercedes at (760) 436-1711.