Be Cautious About “National Medicare Education Week”

September 13, 2012 in Medicare, Member Stories

Just a caution to readers that two primarily Medicare insurance companies, a financial advisory company primarily aimed at retirement issues, and an association of some sort of providers or users of home-based healthcare support (I can’t tell whether it’s users or providers after five minutes on their web site and I can’t figure ouit what kind of support they use or provide) have declared next week National Medicare Education Week. 

It sounds like a pure marketing gimmick to me. That does not make it bad.  Education on issues of any sort is always important.

Just remember that if you go to a “National Automotive Performance Week” or a “National Highway Transportation Options” event with content created by General Motors and it’s held at your town’s Chevy dealer, you can still buy a Ford or a Toyota or a… The same applies to National Medicare Education Week. The first step in Medicare Education is understanding your options as illustrated in this chart from the Medicare and You booklet on medicare.gov

Rather than next week, I consider the key Medicare Education dates to be:

  • Open Enrollment for Medicare Parts C and D for 2013 begins October 15 nationally and lasts until December 7; your best sources for totally unbiased information and/or assistance are medicare.gov and your local senior center. 
  • Open enrollment for Medicare Supplement insurance (a Medigap plan) is continuous in Massachusetts (meaning you can sign up or switch Medigap types or insurers any time). But it makes sense to do a review during Part C/D open enrollment time simply for convenience (other states may and most likely do have different rules for Medigap open enrollment). 
  • You can’t do either of the above unless you are on Original Parts A and B Medicare and the enrollment dates for those two Parts of Medicare vary widely but are primarily three months before and three months after the month in which you turn 65 (but every case is different particularly for Part B if you are not retiring so call your local senior center)
  • If you receive retiree healthcare insurance, it still makes sense to check out the above options to see if a better alternative exists for you

Whatever branch of the Medicare Education decision tree you go down, new plan availability and prices will probably not be posted on the medicare.gov web site until around October 1. So again, there’s no problem in getting some education during National Medicare Education Week but that’s all I’d do…

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