Medicare open enrollment begins early

Published 9:12 am Monday, November 7, 2011

Column: Michele Kimball, Guest Column

Medicare open enrollment season has begun. If that seems a bit early to you, you’re right. This year the open enrollment period begins and ends early (Oct. 15-Dec. 7). In previous years the enrollment period began closer to November and extended until the end of December.

Michelle Kimball

In order to avoid confusion and ensure that no senior misses their opportunity to review changes, it is more important than ever to spread the word on this critically important time of the year.

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AARP recommends that everyone enrolled in Medicare take the opportunity to review their plan each year and make sure it is still the right choice for them. Circumstances change each year. Premiums can increase, benefits could increase or decrease and an individuals’ health status could change as well. Any or all of these factors could lead seniors to need a new plan.

It is also just a good practice to review the competition to ensure you aren’t spending too much money. Plans that were more expensive years ago may be cheaper now.

Too many seniors put off the open enrollment season because they feel it is too complicated or complex. Yet it is important to understand that there are resources out there to help you take advantage of this opportunity to save money and improve your coverage.

The best resource for Minnesota seniors without a doubt is the Senior LinkAge Line. The LinkAge Line is a partnership between the state Administration on Aging and the federal Area Agencies on Aging. It is the one-stop shop that has it all — and the volunteers and staff at the LinkAge Line specialize in Medicare plans.

The LinkAge Line can be reached toll-free at 1-800-333-2433. In addition to answering questions about Medicare, they can also assist with long-term care needs, referrals and applications for heating and nutrition assistance.

Before choosing a new plan it is important to consider things like: how much will it cost for premiums, prescriptions and co-payments, are your current doctors covered in the new plan, do you need referrals to see a specialist, are your medications covered and is your local pharmacy included in the plan’s network?

If you are on Medicare or have a loved one on Medicare these are very important decisions. It is so critical to have the most affordable plan that meets your needs.


Michele Kimball is the state director of AARP Minnesota.