Where To Get Help With Medicare Open Enrollment

Print icon
By Penny Ross, MPH Resource Coordinator, and Robin Michel

It’s no secret that Medicare can be complicated, with Part A, Part B, Part D, Medicare Supplement and Medicare Advantage.

What does it all mean?

As a Medicare beneficiary, you have from Oct. 15 to Dec. 7 to review your coverage and make any changes for 2018.  Changes made take effect Jan. 1, 2018.

Here’s a quick-hit guide to Medicare:

Q: What is Medicare?
A: Medicare is a federal health insurance program for people aged 65 or older or for those under age 65 who have been receiving Social Security Disability payments for 24 months.

Q: What are the different types of Medicare coverage?
A: Medicare Part A is hospital insurance.  It covers inpatient hospital stays, care in a skilled nursing facility, hospice care and sometimes home health care.  Typically, Medicare Part A is premium free.  Under Medicare Part A, you may be responsible for a deductible, copays or coinsurance.

Medicare Part B is medical insurance.  It covers your doctor visits, outpatient services- such as lab work, x-rays, medical supplies, and preventive services.  There is a monthly premium for Medicare Part B.  There is also an annual deductible, after which Medicare generally pays 80% and you pay 20% for the Medicare approved charges.

Medicare Part C is also known as Medicare Advantage Plans.  Medicare Advantage Plans are offered by private insurance companies approved by Medicare.  They cover everything that original Medicare (Part A and Part B) covers, but may include additional benefits such as fitness, dental, hearing exams, etc.  You must be entitle to Medicare Part A and enrolled in Medicare Part B to be eligible to enroll in an Advantage Plan.

Medicare Part D is prescription drug coverage.  In 2006, Medicare required all Medicare Beneficiaries to have creditable prescription coverage.  If you don’t join a Medicare Prescription Drug Plan when you’re first eligible you may be subject to a penalty.  If you have a prescription drug plan through a retiree pan, the VA, or some other plan that is as good as or better than Medicare you are not required to purchase a Part D plan.

Medicare Supplement plans are designed to “fill in the gaps” to Original Medicare.  Medicare Supplement plans work with Original Medicare, not Advantage Plans.  The may help pay for your deductibles, coinsurance or copays, and may offer additional benefits.  Medicare Supplement plans don’t include prescription drug coverage and are sold by private insurance companies.

Enrolling in Medicare can be intimidating but it’s important to understand the different parts of Medicare and have the proper coverage.  There are only certain times you can enroll and make changes to your coverage. If you need more help understanding coverage or how to enroll in an appropriate plan the Center for Healthy Aging can help you.

The Center for Healthy Aging has CHOICES counselors at The Hospital of Central Connecticut’s New Britain and Bradley campuses; Windham Hospital; MidState Medical Center; Hartford Hospital; and family health centers in Vernon and Bloomfield. Call our toll-free number (1.877.424.4641) to ask for help from a CHOICES counselor.

What's New

The Orchards at Southington receives Activate Southington grant

LeaAnn Blanchard, director of social services at The Orchards at Southington, third from left, gathers with members of Activate Southington and other grant recipients outside the Southington YMCA Women’s Health & Wellness Center. Blanchard’s program, “Laughter with LeaAnn,” received funding to support its expansion to several days each week. The...

DAWN Protocols are Revolutionizing Stroke Treatment and Care

DAWN is a groundbreaking study that is changing the way doctors are treating people who have had strokes. Dr. Mark Alberts is the physician-in-chief at the Hartford HealthCare Ayer Neuroscience Institute with details. Q.  What do these protocols mean for stroke patients?  A.  This new study (called the DAWN Trial...

A Grill Brush, A Burger . . . And Emergency Surgery

Cleaning your grill with a wire brush can be dangerous, as one Wallingford woman learned in 2015. Cheryl Harrison was rushed to MidState Medical Center in Meriden in extreme stomach pain two days after eating a hamburger containing a wire bristle from a barbecue grill brush. A CT scan revealed...

Photo Gallery: Hartford HealthCare Dancing for Parkinson’s Event

The Hartford HealthCare Ayer Neuroscience Institute hosted the inaugural Hartford HealthCare’s Dancing for Parkinson’s fundraising event May 11 at the Hartford Hilton Hotel.  The evening will included a dance competition featuring special guests and judges from Hartford HealthCare and the state and music by the De Novo Band. Proceeds benefit...

Closeup of man tying sneaker.

A Closer Look at Longtime Runner’s Knee-Replacement Surgery

When Richard Kristoff was about 40 years old, his brother called him fat, launching a 45-year passion for running. The Columbia native ran at least five miles a day, more on weekends, in pockets of time he found around his work schedule with Pratt & Whitney, where he spent 40...

Keeping an Eye on Ocular Melanoma

Malignant melanoma of the eye – ocular melanoma – is rare. But there are common precursors of the disease. Dr. Scott Walter from the Hartford HealthCare Cancer Institute’s Melanoma and Skin Cancer Center is one of only two ocular oncologists practicing in Connecticut.   Q: What is ocular melanoma? A: Ocular...