The federal government has announced a Special Enrollment Period (SEP) for people with Medicare impacted by the fires in California and who live (or did live at the time of the disaster) in impacted areas where the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) declared an emergency or major disaster. This SEP is also available to people who don’t live in impacted areas, but rely on help making health care decisions from friends or family members who live in the impacted areas.
The SEP will run at least through March 31, 2018, giving individuals with Medicare additional time to change their Medicare medical and prescription drug plans for 2018, including Medicare Advantage plans, in the event they were unable to do so during another qualifying enrollment period.
If you are eligible for Medicare; qualify for the SEP; and haven’t yet selected a 2018 Medicare Advantage or Prescription Drug Plan, here are five simple steps to help you make the best decision:
Review your current Medicare health plan. Analyze how much you’ve spent on health care during the past year, including hospital expenses, prescriptions and doctor bills.
Know your options. Choices include:
Comparison Shop. Once you choose the type of Medicare plan that best fits your needs, research the costs, benefits, and network of doctors and hospitals associated with each plan.
Consider the “extras” included. Some Medicare Advantage plans include extra benefits, such as a fitness program and exercise classes specifically designed for people with Medicare. Others include dental, vision and hearing benefits.
Get help. Shopping for a Medicare plan can be daunting, but there are resources available to assist you. You can call 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227) (or TTY: 1-877-486-2048) 24 hours a day, seven days a week for 2018 Medicare plan information. Or you can call Humana at 1-888-204-4062 (TTY users can use 711). Websites like www.Medicare.gov and www.humana.com/medicare can also help you research plans available in your area before the Medicare Advantage and Prescription Drug Plan Special Enrollment Period ends. To be covered by a plan on Jan. 1, 2018, you must make an election before the end of this year.