Are You Receiving Accessible Medicare Documents This Year?

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2016 Open Enrollment Dates and Important Information on How to Get Accessible Medicare Documents

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This year, Stevie Wonder, Tom Petty and Jay Leno are all eligible to navigate the Medicare system. If you were born during 1950-1951 or before you are eligible for Medicare, upon reaching age 65, too.

If you’re new to Medicare and have never been enrolled, you should receive an informational package from Medicare in the mail. There is an Open Enrollment Period for people who are 65 that opens 3-months before age 65 and extends for 3 months after you turn 65.

However, if you require your documents in an accessible and alternative format please contact Medicare.gov or your preferred Medicare provider.  You can download and use our template to request accessible Medicare documents.  It is your legal right to have all Medicare documents in a format that you can access.

The Open Enrollment period of the six month time period, that correlates to your turning 65 isn’t the only opportunity that you have to select a Medicare Advantage Plan (Part C) and/or participate in the Prescription Drug Plan (Part D).

If you started researching Medicare options early there is good news, not a lot has changed in the past year.  However, if you are new to Medicare please pay attention to the plans that are available, the important dates and deadlines.

Four Parts to Medicare and Gap Plans:

  • Parts A and B are original Medicare
  • Part C is Medicare Advantage
  • Part D is prescription drug coverage
  • Medigap is also available to some people who are eligible for Medicare

It is ideal to begin researching Medicare Part C and Medicare Part D options at the beginning of October, 2015.  This should give you enough time to access accessible documents and make an educated decision prior to the December 7, 2015 deadline.  You can use this form to request accessible, alternative format documents from a Medicare Advantage and Part D provider. [Download Letter Here]

Open enrollment, October 15, 2015- December 7, 2015, is the time when individuals eligible for Medicare are able to change Part C Medicare Advantage and/or Part D prescription-drug plans.  The new plans will be in place by January 1, 2016.

You may be asking “What if the new plan doesn’t meet my needs?”  If the new Medicare Part C (Medicare Advantage) or Medicare Part D (Prescription Drug Plan) doesn’t fit your need, do not worry, there is a chance for you to switch plans to a plan that is right for you during the disenrollment period.

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What Are My Medicare Options?

Medicare Part A and B are the standard Medicare coverage.  If you are satisfied with this basic level there is nothing for you to do.  Once enrolled in the program it will operate as it has in the past, minus any policy changes.

Medicare Advantage is a program that people use to receive their Part A and Part B services from a private health insurance provider.  Often, there are supplemental and preventative services that a private company may offer that are not available through the original Medicare Part A and Part B programs.

Prescription Drug Plan, Medicare Part D is a supplemental program that varies offering a prescription plan.

Medicare Medical Savings Accounts

Some private Medicare Advantage Plans also offer Medicare Medical Savings Account (MSA) Plans. This type of plan combines a high-deductible health insurance plan with a medical savings account that you can use to pay for your health care costs.  Medicare MSA Plans give you freedom to control your health care dollars and provide you with important coverage against high health care costs.

Medigap Plans

Medigap is another type of private insurance that works with Original Medicare to help cover out-of-pocket costs.  However, you’re only guaranteed a Medigap plan within the first six months of being 65 and you’re already enrolled in Medicare Part B.  After, six months of turning 65 and being enrolled in Medicare Part B, unlike with Medicare Advantage plans, you can be denied Medigap coverage based on your health.

Research Before Choosing Your Medicare Options

If you are still employed or have retirement benefits it is important that you meet with your employer, union, or other benefits administrator about their rules before you join a Medicare Advantage Plan.  Warning, joining a Medicare Advantage Plan might cause you to lose employer or union coverage.  If you lose coverage for yourself, you may also lose coverage for your spouse and dependents.

In other cases, if you join a Medicare Advantage Plan, you may still be able to use your employer or union coverage along with the plan you join.  If you drop your employer or union coverage, you may not be able to get it back.

Be mindful of your options, do your homework and gather all of your needed documents in an Accessible Format so you can make an educated decision that meets your needs.

It’s Your Right to Request Accessible Formats

As a person with a visual impairment or a person who is blind you are entitled to equal access to all documents in alternative formats like braille, large print, audio and accessible electronic documents.  Please contact your Medicare Insurance provider and ask for the format that will allow you equal access to review all of the associated documents needed to make an educated decision on the Medicare options that will best fit your needs.

As mentioned above, we have compiled this short request-letter you can download and send to your provider or benefits coordinator.  Simply fill in your insurance information up top, choose the accessible format you prefer and sign your name at the bottom. Mail the completed form to your insurance company. [Download Letter Here]

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