Medicare Open Enrollment is over … Now what?

Chautauqua County seniors (and OFA counselors) made it through the 2013 Medicare open enrollment period. But many of our area seniors are asking what happens now? January is the month when new healthcare plans take effect, EPIC enrollments are verified and social security benefits will increase for 2014. There are still many questions to be answered and adjustments to health insurance that take place during January. So, the OFA HIICAP counselors continue to assist those individuals who missed the Open Enrollment deadline, enrolled in a plan that they are unhappy with or are newly eligible Medicare beneficiaries. Here are a few most frequently asked questions about what happens next!

How does the EPIC plan work?

Those who are EPIC members should have received a letter from EPIC providing information about the annual fee plan or deductible plan for 2014. EPIC benefits such as payment of your PART D premium usually take a month (or two) to take effect. Be patient and to make sure that EPIC has the new Part D information, contact the Office for the Aging and we will be happy to check. Remember to take your EPIC card to your pharmacy each January to ensure they have your EPIC identification in the pharmacy system so you receive the benefit of lower costs on your medications.

Yikes! I missed open enrollment. Now what?

There may be a “Special Enrollment Period” (SEP) that would allows you to enroll in a healthcare plan outside of the annual Open Enrollment period. You may be eligible for an SEP if you are an EPIC member or you have Extra Help for your prescriptions. If you recently lost your current insurance through an employer, you also may have an SEP that would allow you to enroll into a new plan for 2014.

What happens if I enrolled in a plan I don’t like?

There are two answers to this question. If you qualify for a Special Enrollment Period as mentioned above, then you may change your current insurance to another plan. If you do not qualify for an SEP, then you must keep the current plan you enrolled in and wait until October for the next Annual Open Enrollment Period.

Is it to late to enroll in EPIC?

As long as you are 65 years old or older and are a resident of New York State, you may enroll in EPIC at any time of the year if you meet the income eligibility requirements. For an application and assistance, contact the Office for the Aging.

Not sure if you qualify for an SEP? Call the Office for the Aging at one of our three locations and we will help determine what you are eligible for and assist you with the steps necessary to make your health care the best it can be for your health needs. The numbers for the Office for the Aging for Chautauqua County residents are: 363-4582, 753-4582 or 661-7582.