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Take Time Now to Review Your Medicare Coverage

Your health care needs may have changed during the COVID-19 crisis

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Photo by Timothy Greenfield-Sanders

Jo Ann Jenkins

En español | For more than 55 years, Medicare has been a health care lifeline for tens of millions of older Americans. But as we continue to cope with the COVID-19 pandemic, making sure you have the coverage that best meets your needs is even more critical.

Every year during Medicare’s open enrollment period you get a chance to do that. From now until Dec. 7, you can review your existing coverage and make changes. You can weigh the pros and cons of original Medicare and Medicare Advantage plans and decide which would be most suitable for you in the coming year. You might also want to check in with your current doctors and other medical professionals to see what plans they participate in. And pay particular attention to the selection of your Medicare Part D plan, which covers prescription drugs. You’ll want to make sure the medications you take are covered at a price you can afford.

There’s no getting around it: Medicare can be complicated, and there’s a temptation to ignore open enrollment and just leave things the way they are. But if you do that you may end up paying more out of pocket next year and missing out on services that could help keep you healthy.

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AARP works every day to ensure that our elected leaders know how important the Medicare program is to its 62 million enrollees. Early on in the pandemic, we fought to make sure Medicare would cover coronavirus-related expenses — including those for testing, hospital care, emerging treatments and, once approved, vaccinations. COVID-19 has also prompted an expansion of coverage for telehealth. Medical professionals can now virtually monitor ongoing conditions like diabetes, high blood pressure or heart disease, so those important medical needs are not ignored while we take precautions to stay safe from the virus.

As you contemplate whether you need to make changes in your coverage, take a look at our Medicare Made Easy enrollment guide. We explain in detail what Medicare does and doesn’t cover, the various options, and what’s new for 2021. Yet another great source of information is Medicare itself. You can chat with a representative on the website or call the toll-free Medicare hotline, 800-MEDICARE (800-633-4227), which is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Remember, you have only until Dec. 7 to make sure you’re getting the most from Medicare.