If you are a caregiver to someone over the age of 65, you will likely have many questions about Medicare, especially heading into Medicare’s Annual Election Period (AEP). This is a good time to make sure the person in your care is getting the most from their Medicare coverage. We’d like to provide a basic caregiver’s guide for Medicare AEP so that you can help a parent or loved one get the information they need to make important decisions this fall.
1. Know the dates of Medicare’s Annual Election Period (AEP) and any important updates
Each year, the AEP lasts from October 15 through December 7. During this time, Medicare beneficiaries can make changes to their Medicare coverage, including switching from Original Medicare to a Medicare Advantage (MA) plan, changing from one MA plan to another or changing from one Medicare Part D (prescription drug) plan to another. Any decision made will go into effect on January 1 of the following year. Additional resources from Aspire Health Plan include:
- Medicare basics overview
- What’s new for Medicare for 2021?
- How to help your loved one enroll in Medicare
2. Review your loved one’s current healthcare coverage
Find out how they receive Medicare benefits. This is likely through Original Medicare (Parts A and B) with/without supplementary coverage (MedSupp, Medigap) and/or prescription drug coverage (Medicare Part D) or a Medicare Advantage (MA) plan with/without prescription drug coverage. If your loved one is enrolled in an MA plan or a Part D plan, they will also receive an Annual Notice of Change (ANOC) and/or Evidence of Coverage (EOC) in September that will notify them of any changes in their plan’s benefits, costs or rules for the upcoming year.
3. Find out if your loved one’s current healthcare coverage is meeting their needs
A person’s needs change and may continue to change over time, even from year to year. Ask your loved one if their current plan will cover all his or her health and drug needs (including dental and vision) for next year while remaining an affordable option. Beyond traditional benefits, consider other health needs including fitness benefits, access to healthy meals and reliable transportation benefits. Having a conversation with your loved one about what they want and need will help you help them choose the best coverage available for them. If a plan is not meeting their needs, it may be worth switching plans, or at least looking at what options are out there. Switching Medicare plans during the AEP isn’t as difficult as it might sound.
4. Compare Medicare plans in your area
If your loved one is not happy with their Medicare coverage, research Medicare options in your area to see if there is an option that better meets their needs. If they have a Part D plan, check to see what an MA plan with Part D coverage (MAPD) plan could offer. Aspire Health Plan offers Monterey County’s only Medicare Advantage plan. Our plans include Part D coverage. Also, look at how a plan can help members stay connected to their communities. For example, Aspire Health Plan’s free Community Connections classes are fun, educational and bring people together.
5. Also, don’t forget to care for you, the caregiver
It’s very easy to get caught up in the responsibilities of caring for someone else. Don’t forget about you. Always remember to make time for self-care. Here are some resources for caregivers in Monterey County, California:
- California Caregiver Resource Centers
- The Carmel Foundation
- Del Mar Caregiver Resource Center
- The Alzheimer’s Association Center Coast Chapter
- Caregiver Action Network
- VA’s National Caregiver Support Line (CSL)
If you or a loved one are interested in learning more about the basics of Medicare or want to discover the benefits of Aspire Health plan, visit our Seminars page to learn more and sign up. There is no obligation to enroll at any of our events.