Those who qualify for Medicare have until December 7 to either enroll or change their plans.
The AARP recommends checking your coverage and plan details even if you are not considering changing your Medicare plan, to determine if it’s what you need.
But the advocacy group urges seniors enrolling in Medicare for the first time to research their coverage.
“Certainly they want to look for coverage,” State Director of Multicultural Leadership and Community Engagement Wallace Cunningham said. “What kind of coverage they’re going to get, cost, convenience. And then the kind of customer services that they will receive.”
Before enrolling in a plan, check to make sure your doctor accepts Medicare. Cunningham said the best way to do so is call your doctor’s office and ask.
“The period from October 15-December 7 is the time for folks to really take a look at their plans and at their coverages and then ask the kinds of questions that they need answers to, to make informed decisions,” he said. “There are resources available that can provide excellent guidance and counseling.”
Cunningham warns only to use web sites such as medicare.gov or State Health Insurance Assistance Programs. A browser search of “Medicare enrollment” initially brings up sponsored sites. While many are legitimate insurance companies, clicking on other sites that appear in a search may put your personal information at risk.
“If they’re going to go out looking for something on the web, I want to emphasize medicare.gov,” Cunningham said. “That’s the official United States government site for Medicare.”
New Medicare cards have begun arriving in the mail for seniors which no longer include the participant’s Social Security number. The new cards instead have personal identification numbers .
“Any kind of phone call that you get from people saying that there’s a cost to this card, you should be very wary because it very likely could be a scam,” Cunningham said.
Coverage under the new plans begins January 1.