Every fall Medicare Open Enrollment kicks off. It is the only time of year when Medicare recipients can make changes to their current plan. The annual enrollment period runs from October 15th through December 7th.

Because we communicate with our clients’ adult children on a regular basis, we often find ourselves answering questions about Medicare Open Enrollment. Many adult children are not old enough to receive Medicare and are overwhelmed at how to help their aging parent evaluate their options.

We know how important it is to choose the right options during open enrollment. For many of the older adults we work with in Connecticut, health care costs are the biggest expense they have. We encourage clients and their adult children to start the process early rather than waiting until late November or early December.

Here are 6 things to help you make the most of Medicare Open Enrollment:

  1. Even if you are happy with your current plan and don’t anticipate making any changes, you should still review your Annual Notice of Change (ANOC). Make sure the benefits will remain the same and your current providers are still a part of the plan. That might mean making phone calls to your health care providers directly to confirm their participation in 2014.
  2. The Medicare Plan Finder tool can help you identify plans that are available in your area by zip code.
  3. The Medicare Advantage Disenrollment Period (MADP) is from January 1st through February 14th each year. This is the time of year when you can dis-enroll from a Medicare Advantage plan and enroll in original Medicare.
  4. If you have questions about enrollment, coverages or anything related to your options, call Medicare directly at 1-800-MEDICARE. It is always a good idea to take notes about your conversation and to include who you spoke with and the date and time of your call.
  5. If you would like to learn more about the prescription drug benefit, the Medicare website drug coverage resources.
  6. Medicare has a helpful brochure Have You Done Your Yearly Medicare Review that you can download for free.

Are you an adult child helping an aging parent with Medicare open enrollment? Do you have any advice to share with other adult children?