October can be confusing.

What costume should I wear? What type of candy should I buy? Who has the best treats? What about my Medicare Part D plan?

Sometimes it seems that “trick or treat” may be more applicable to Medicare than Halloween. And on we go.

Open enrollment for Medicare Part D (prescriptions) begins Oct. 15 and runs through Dec. 7. The plan-finder (https://www.medicare.gov/plan-compare/) that allows people to explore options has changed this year, and rolled out this month. Yes, the new program came out in open enrollment month. Maybe not the best timing, but there it is.

Part of the confusion lies in the term “open enrollment.” Yes, this is the time for Part D. We have a lot of people thinking along the lines of:

It’s open enrollment! Time to shop for Medicare plans!”

Yes, it is — for Part D. People who also have supplemental plans (also called medi-gap plans) do not have to enroll during this time period.

Let’s take a quick peek at supplemental plans. Medicare doesn’t cover 100% of your medical costs. Approximately 80% will be covered in most cases, leaving another 20% that needs to be paid. This is where supplemental plans come in.

These plans are Medicare approved insurance plans through private companies and — just like your other insurances — you can enroll at any time. (No need to panic during the Part D open enrollment period.)

Another point of confusion (yes, please!) is due to TV ads.

Through our Medicare Plans, we have vision coverage, dental, possible help at home, and someone to wash the dog! (OK, maybe not the dog part).

There are Medicare Advantage Plans that combine the regular Medicare coverage with add-ons such as vision, dental, etc. for increased premium costs. These, however, are not available in Pacific County.

So:

• From Oct. 15 to Dec. 7, it’s open enrollment for Part D.

• Supplemental plans are not part of open enrollment — you can enroll in them at any time.

I hope this clarifies some of the confusion. Now feel free to go and think about costumes and candy.

Information & Assistance

Long Beach: 360-642-3634

888-571-6558

Raymond: 360-942-2177

888-571-6557

www.o3a.org

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