For those on Medicare, the critical date of Dec. 7 is right around the corner. Yes, that date is well known as Pearl Harbor Day, but for Medicare beneficiaries, it’s also an important date because it’s the last day of the Annual Enrollment Period. This is your opportunity to choose a 2022 Medicare plan, with coverage starting on Jan. 1.
Still need to pick your plan? I’m sharing some tips from our Blue Cross Medicare experts to help during the final days of the Annual Enrollment Period. But, my biggest tip of all: DON’T GO IT ALONE. You can work for free with an experienced agent who is well-versed in Medicare. The agent will walk you through your plan options and answer your questions to find the coverage that best meets your needs. There is no obligation to buy just because you work with an agent. Plus, one of the best things about working with an agent is that it can become an ongoing relationship, not just someone you call during enrollment. Connect with an agent at BCBSLAPlan.com/Medicare or call 1-800-568-1417 (TTY 711), 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., 7 days a week.
Know Your Medicare Options
I’ve written before about why it’s important to understand the different parts of Medicare and how each works. That’s especially important as you’re thinking about what Medicare coverage you want in 2022.
With Original Medicare (Parts A and B), you get coverage for hospital care, doctor visits, skilled nursing facility care, home health care services and preventive services. Original Medicare doesn’t cover all of your health care expenses, leaving you responsible for about 20 percent of your costs. It also doesn’t include prescription drug coverage (Part D), which you can buy separately.
With Medicare Advantage (Part C), you get Parts A and B, plus extra benefits. These plans are offered through private insurance companies. Depending on the plan you choose, you could get a fitness center membership, plus vision, hearing and dental services. Some MA plans even include prescription drug coverage.
Medicare A’s, B’s, C’s and D’s + 3 P’s
As you look over your Medicare plan options, consider the 3 P’s – you can also ask your agent to review them with you:
- Provider – Can you see your choice of network doctors and specialists… all without a referral?
- Pharmacy – Will you have prescription drug options covered from your first dollar of expense – with no deductible?
- Plan Value – How can you keep more money in your pocket every month while enjoying extra benefits like telehealth services or fitness programs?
For more tips, check out this Hometown Productions video with Blue Cross Medicare Benefit Specialist Ann Booth (2:53). You can also visit our Blue Cross Facebook page to view recordings of virtual educational events with Medicare experts – hosted by yours truly! And visit our Blue Cross YouTube channel to see the Medicare Made Easy YouTube playlist of short videos, including a Medicare 101 video.
Stay Alert for Scams
Unfortunately, Medicare’s Annual Enrollment Period is a prime target for scammers, and Louisiana Department of Insurance has reported that it’s happening here.
If you get unsolicited calls, texts, emails or visits from someone offering to help you switch plans, be wary. Legitimate agents are not allowed to make cold calls; you have to contact them about enrolling. Scammers will reach out to try and get your information and enroll you in a different Medicare plan to earn a commission, which could put your healthcare coverage at risk.
If you think a scammer is approaching you, walk away or hang up, don’t respond, do not engage. If you think you or a loved one has been a victim of fraud, report it as soon as possible:
- Louisiana Department of Insurance Senior Health Insurance Program (SHIP) Hotline:
- Senior Medicare Patrol: 1-877-272-8720 or stopmedicarefraud.org
- Blue Cross Fraud Help Line: 1-800-392-9249
- Federal Fraud Reporting: 1-800-CALL-FBI or FTC.Gov
Earlier this year, I shared Mr. Jimmy’s story with you. He was a victim of one of these scams, in which his identity was stolen and he ended up disenrolled from his Medicare plan and put in a different plan – all without his consent and at a critical time when he needed treatment. Fortunately, his Blue Cross agent, Hope, stepped in to help him get his coverage restored. He shares his story to help others avoid scammers in this video (2:49).
Straight Talk is, consider your options, take advantage of the chance to work FOR FREE with an experienced agent, and use these tips to find the plan that’s the best fit for you. Also, don’t worry about seeming rude – just hang up on those cold callers!