The Medicare Open Enrollment period is here! If you are a caregiver for a loved one with a disability or an older adult, this is an important deadline of which to be aware. It is the one time of year you can make changes to your Medicare elections. In our work with families in Illinois and Missouri, we find there are a few basic questions we hear over and over each year. We know that navigating the Medicare website to find the answers you need isn’t always quick or easy to do.

To help, our team has pulled together answers to the most frequently asked questions.

What is Medicare Open Enrollment?

This is an annual event that allows Medicare recipients the chance to review how their current coverages are working for them and make any adjustments they feel are necessary. You can review any changes in your provider plans and investigate what better choices might be available. Medicare has a free brochure that can help you with your review.

When is the 2014 Medicare Open Enrollment period?

Medicare Open Enrollment period always begins on October 15th and runs through December 7th each year.

How do I know what to look for and how do I evaluate my Medicare benefits?

The Medicare website offers tools that can help you assess programs in your area. One is called, Medicare Plan Finder. It allows you to search your zip code for plans near you. They also have a brochure called, Yearly Medicare Plan Review, you can download. It offers pointers on how to evaluate your options and make the most of your Medicare benefit.

Do I need to do anything if I want to stick with my current benefit?

If you are satisfied with everything just as it is, you aren’t required to do anything. Your coverage will remain the same for 2015.

When do changes I make during open enrollment take effect?

The changes you request during open enrollment will go in to effect on January 1, 2015.

What do I do if I need help with open enrollment?

Medicare recipients can receive one-on-one help from your State Health Assistance Program (SHIP) at no cost. Use the Medicare Contacts database to search for your local SHIP office.

We hope these tips on Medicare Open Enrollment help you make the right choices for you and your loved one! Questions? Contact us for more information!