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Chances are you started receiving lots of Medicare notices, updates and advertisements toward the end of summer. Now it's officially time to review your Medicare benefits and ensure you are in the best plan for the coming year. You have from Oct. 15 to Dec. 7 to make any changes during "Medicare Open Enrollment."

Take Time to Review Your Plan
If you are just starting out at determining which Medicare path you plan to take, I highly recommend you speak with a qualified, licensed insurance broker to ensure you are fully educated on the differences between staying with Traditional Medicare or electing to go with an Advantage Plan. 

Once that decision is made, as the years roll on by, it can be easy to ignore all the notices and updates that get sent your way from year to year.  However, I want to encourage you to NOT ignore them and take the time to read what your plan will look like for next year.

For a complete guide on how to review your overall plan, please see my blog "Why Medicare Open Enrollment is Important." 

It Pays to Check Your Prescription Drug Plan (Part D) Closely
One part of Medicare that can change drastically from year to year is your prescription drug plan (Part D).  If you have a standalone drug policy, you will want to review this EVERY SINGLE YEAR.  The main reason is because there is always potential to save money into the next year. 

Last year, many Lenbrook residents took advantage of reviewing their individual plans and we were able to help save a collective $54,409 by making some changes based on each individual’s specific circumstances.  So it can pay to check carefully!

There are many reasons why changes can happen – premiums increase, drug formularies change, preferred pharmacies change and finally your personal medications can change based on what you are currently taking.  For those reasons alone, you should always consider reviewing your Part D policy.
Additional Resources

Over the next two months, Lenbrook's LIVE Support Services team will be working with our residents to answer Medicare questions and assist with plan reviews. Other helpful resources you may want to consult during your plan review include:
* GeorgiaCares, 1-866-552-4464 (option 4) to request to speak to a live certified counselor
* Centers for Medicare and Medicaid (CMS) at 1-800-medicare (1-800-633-4227)

Even if you choose not to make any changes, you can rest easy knowing you've got the best fit for your needs in the coming year. 

Cristina Ramey, MSW, PSC, is Director of Lenbrook's LIVE support services program where she and her team helps residents navigate changes in health, interests, wants and needs. She is a University of Georgia graduate with a master's in social work and holds an undergraduate degree in human and social services from Kennesaw State University. In addition, she has completed Kennesaw State's professional development Gerontology Certificate Program and the Leadership Academy certificate program of LeadingAge Georgia.