It’s That Time of Year

The dog days of summer are gone, and it’s nearing that certain time of year again. Sadly, I’m not referring to football season or the beauty of autumn.  Instead I’m referring to Medicare Open Enrollment time. EXCITING! Ok, not so much. But nonetheless, it is a very important time of the year for new enrollees of Medicare along with current beneficiaries that want to make a change to their current coverage.

The Medicare open enrollment period runs from October 15 through December 7, 2013. This is the time when Medicare beneficiaries should review their current plans, compare them to the new plans available for 2014 and make changes as necessary. Information on the 2014 plans should be available by October 1.

Medicare provides health benefits to nearly 50 million seniors and disabled people¹. And that number continues to balloon as nearly 10,000 baby boomers are turning 65 every single day, thus becoming eligible for Medicare benefits. Due to this surge, Medicare is continually changing and must evolve to prolong its existence. Because of the constant evolution, this wave of consumers quickly discovers or will soon discover navigating Medicare can be confusing, especially as a new beneficiary. Additionally, the complex navigation is not isolated to just the “newbies.” Even as a “seasoned” Medicare beneficiary, you can still face challenges during the annual open enrollment periods. Choosing the right Medicare prescription plan (Part D) or weighing traditional Medicare against Medicare Advantage Plans to fit your budget and need are common quandaries that even tenured beneficiaries face. This labyrinth of terminology, benefits, rules, and the assorted options can be overwhelming. This process of “shopping around” for the right benefits is becoming the new normal.

Knowing that consumers struggle with these issues, this past July, Messiah Lifeways Coaching hosted a workshop entitled “The A, B, C, and Ds of Medicare.” We had a really great turn out and want to continue to offer outreach and education for those who need help with understanding and choosing the Medicare options that are right for them or a loved one. Therefore, Messiah Lifeways will be a host site for a FREE educational presentation entitled Get Your Ducks in a Row” on Monday, September 30 from 10-11 am in Compass Pointe Place at Messiah Village. The program will be presented by APPRISE State Health Insurance Assistance Program. APPRISE counselors will cover topics including the ever befuddling Affordable Care Act, the Marketplace, Medicare Open Enrollment and how APPRISE can help.

Additionally, on Wednesday, November 20 from 10-12 noon, Cumberland County Aging and Community Services and APPRISE will be a hosting a Medicare Annual Enrollment Event once again in Compass Pointe Place. It is geared toward people who are new to Medicare or want to learn more about the Medicare Prescription (Part D) drug benefit and how it works. Enrollees can meet one-on-one with an APPRISE counselor to explore these options by calling 717-240-6110 and scheduling an individual appointment. For a list of additional host sites for enrollment appointments, please click here.

For additional resources on Medicare, check out the links below:

>Medicare.gov

>Center for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS)

>Medicare Tips and Tricks from thirdage.com

>Four Medicare Misconceptions by Kristen Gerencher from the Wall Street Journal- Feb. 11, 2011

¹Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation, Total Number of Medicare Beneficiaries Statistical Information-2012
Matthew J. Gallardo

Matthew J. Gallardo

Matt is the Director of Community Engagement and Coaching at Messiah Lifeways. He brings nearly 20 years of experience in counseling, advocating, and guiding older adults and caregivers through many of life’s tough decisions. His diverse background of working in hospital and rehabilitation settings, community services, and senior housing gives him the breadth and depth of knowledge to provide unique solutions, opportunities, and help individuals proactively plan for the future. He serves as the Lifeways Coach and as a writer, blogger, podcaster, and speaker for Messiah Lifeways, located in Mechanicsburg, PA.

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