Know someone who is Medicare eligible? Here’s a guide to help them assess their plan options and pick the one that fits their needs, especially during the Annual Enrollment Period (AEP), which runs from Oct. 15 to Dec. 7 every year.
Where to start
First, if you are enrolling your loved one on their behalf, you must have written permission to use or give out their information. This includes filling out the Authorization to Disclose Personal Health Information form, which you can find on Medicare.gov. Also, ensure that your loved one’s insurance company has the required permission/authorization on file for you to be able to get information on their behalf.
Next, whether you are just helping them pick a plan or enrolling them yourself, it is important to understand the basics of Medicare. Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Nebraska (BCBSNE) has free seminars and toolkits to help get you started.
Finally, before picking a plan, you should know:
- What is the total cost of the plan and is it within the individual’s budget?
- Are the medications they take covered? Is there a copay?
- Are the providers they visit in-network?
- What other benefits are important to the individual? Do they need vision or hearing coverage?
- Are there copayments or other costs to consider?
- How much is the plan’s calendar year deductible?
If you’re not sure of other questions to ask when looking for a plan, your loved one’s primary care provider or a licensed agent can help you compile a list specific to your loved one’s needs.
Picking a plan
BCBSNE provides coverage beyond Parts A and B. These plans may include benefits that Original Medicare doesn’t cover, could lower your health care expenses in the long run or both:
- Medicare Advantageplans (Part C) – Includes all Parts A and B benefits, plus additional services, such as vision, hearing, dental and more benefits.
- Prescription drug plans (Part D) – These plans can help you cover the cost of prescription medication.
- Medicare Supplement plans (Medigap) – If you’re enrolled in Original Medicare, this plan fills cost-sharing gaps, such as deductibles and coinsurance. You don’t need this coverage if you enroll in Medicare Advantage.
During the AEP, people on Medicare can make changes, such as enrolling in a new Medicare Advantage or prescription drug plan. If your parent or loved one is considering a Medicare Advantage or prescription drug plan, they have until Dec. 7 to decide for the 2024 plan year.
The plan finder on Medicare.gov can provide help with prescription drug coverage questions. You can enter the names of current prescriptions to find out which plans would cover the cost of the drugs your loved one is taking. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services has a list of resources available to caregivers and caregiver partners.
There are also caregiver services from other local and national agencies. These include the National Alliance for Caregiving and the local Area Agency on Aging. To find the agency near you, visit Eldercare.gov.
As always, BCBSNE is here to help review Medicare options with you and your loved one. For more information on plans available in your area or to contact a local agent, visit Medicare.NebraskaBlue.com.
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