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(코리아타운뉴스) Medicare Registration Starts Oct. 15

Advantage plans also available

The senior citizens of the Korean-American community who are 65 or older will become relatively busier for eight weeks starting Oct. 15. The period marks the registration window for open enrollment for Medicare, which comes only once a year.

Unlike the initial enrollment period which remains open for as long as seven months, the open enrollment for Medicare allows members to change their existing plans. For those who missed the initial enrollment period, registration is available every year for three months from Jan. 1.

The official enrollment window is a period in which applicants can add or request for a different plan depending on their health, financial and lifestyle needs.

To reiterate, members can continue to keep their current plans, but a similar plan at a cheaper cost may be a good reason for them to make changes.

The changes available during this period are as follows.
First of all, members can choose their own doctor and pharmacy within their network. The biggest focus of attention is on the quality and cost of the medical products. Experts advised that saving costs is obviously important, but that healthy treatment must be prioritized.

Also, members are advised to select plans that are highly rated in its quality. If a member’s current plan has three stars or less, he or she should seriously consider changing the plan. For California, members can simply look through the ratings page of the website by the National Committee for Quality Assurance (http://healthinsuranceratings.ncqa.org/2017/search/Medicare/CA) which was published last June.

The first point of consideration is the traditional Medicare Parts A and B. If needed, the member could choose Part C as the options remain wide since there are many insurance companies providing the advantage plans currently. On the other hand, advantage plan members can return to the traditional Medicare. However, Medigap members cannot make any changes during this specific period.

Most senior citizens are interested in Part D, which focuses on prescription of drugs. Depending on the plan, its coverage could vary depending on the company as well as the cost. The changes are announced in advance, but there are inconveniences unless the announcements are made in Korean.

For these situations, members are advised to consult agents or other experts for help.
However, members are encouraged to do as much research as possible on their own on the Medicare website (https://www.medicare.gov/find-a-plan/questions/home.aspx) before seeking professional help. Experts advise that simply doing as much homework as possible could help senior citizens to choose a plan that fits them best. The site is currently only available in English and Spanish.


By Brian Choi



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