Medicare Annual Open Enrollment Period has started.  The time to review, change, and enroll in a new stand-alone drug plan also called Part D or health plan also called Part C. Choosing a Drug Plan or Medicare Advantage Plan is a very essential decision, and you have until December 7, 2021 to make a choice. Like many others, knowing where to begin can seem overwhelming but here are three tips you should keep in mind:

  • Know the difference between Medicare and Medicaid
  • Just like other major purchases: read reviews before choosing a plan
  • Be on the lookout for fraud

2022 Open enrollment

What’s the difference between Medicare & Medicaid?

Medicare is federal health insurance for anyone age 65 and older, and some people under 65 with certain disabilities or conditions. Medicare offers benefits like coverage for some inpatient, outpatient and hospice care, durable medical equipment and some preventative services.

Medicaid is a joint federal and state program that provides health coverage for some people with limited income and resources. Medicaid offers benefits like nursing home care, dental and vision, personal care services, and assistance paying for Medicare premiums and other costs.

Although the two programs are different, there are two combined options called D-SNP and MI Health Link. These Medicare Advantage plans provide health benefits to those who qualify for Medicare, and are also eligible for Medicaid services. D-SNP and MI Health Link offers the same benefits as a Medicare Advantage Plan plus more, including transportation benefits, telehealth services and care coordination.

 

How do I choose a plan?

Now that you know the difference and have determined your eligibility for Medicare, you can begin the process of choosing a plan. Shopping around for new coverage may feel overwhelming, luckily, all health plans that offer Medicare coverage are evaluated by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), as part of its Star Rating Program.

This CMS program rates health plans based on quality, service, and helping Medicare members from 1 to 5 stars, with 5 being the highest. This can help older adults make informed decisions about Medicare supplement options. Although the rating program is valuable, it shouldn’t be the only measure you use when choosing a health plan. You also need to make sure the plan offers the benefits and coverage you need at an affordable price, and that your doctors and preferred hospitals are in the plan’s network.

 

Be careful – scams are on the rise!

Shopping for a new Medicare Advantage Plan is no different than online shopping. As you consider your options, it is important to protect your Medicare ID number the same way you would protect your Social Security and credit card numbers. Unfortunately, the Annual Enrollment Period is a prime time for scammers to strike. As you search for new plans, you only need to give your name and address to learn more about a plan.

Knowing these three things — the differences between Medicare and Medicaid; the Star Rating Program; and having a heightened awareness of Medicare fraudsters – will help as you research coverage options. For more information to help you make the best choices about your health benefits, call the Medicare-Medicaid Assistance Program’s (MMAP) toll-free help line at 1-800-803-7174 to speak with a counselor; find more info about Medicare online; or call 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227).