Autumn brings falling leaves to the yard and the Medicare and You handbook to the mailbox. So we know it is time again to get out the leaf rake and to re-evaluate our Medicare Part D plan.
Open enrollment for Medicare Part D (the prescription drug plan) and the Medicare Advantage Plan is November 15th through December 31st. This is the time during which you can make changes to your plan.
First of all, if you are happy with your plan and understand the costs, drug coverage and restrictions, you don’t need to do anything. If you want to make changes or better understand your choices, now is the time to go online or make a phone call or two.
It is important not to assume that last year’s plan is the best choice for next year. Providers are announcing changes during this time, so you should at least review your coverage. During the past year, did your doctor prescribe any new medications or change those you are on? These need to be considered, as well.
As long as you are at it, this is also a perfect time to check the expiration dates on all your medicines. If some are out of date, replace them. If you find some you don’t take anymore, get rid of them. However, don’t just flush them down the toilet. Medicines need to be disposed of safely. Follow the specific instructions on the label or check with your pharmacy if you aren’t certain.
The website, www.medicare.gov/, is friendly and informative. For those who don’t go online or prefer a human voice, their phone number is 1-800-633-4227. While I am told the folks who answer are helpful, it does start out with a recording and expects you to enter information with a touch-tone phone.
For information specific to Vermont, you can go to www.cvaa.org or call the Senior Help Line at 1-800-642-5119. The website is for the Champlain Valley Agency on Aging and phone number connects you with the Agency on Aging closest to you.
If this is all too overwhelming, bring in the assistance of family or friends, but make sure you take advantage of this opportunity to improve your Medicare Part D coverage. And, of course, get it done early. You don’t want to be worrying about this at Christmas time!
Doing the paperwork is all part of the process. That’s why I keep saying, “Aging in Place, it doesn’t happen by accident.”