Do I Need to Make Changes During Medicare Open Enrollment?

Do I Need to Make Changes During Medicare Open Enrollment?

The 2021 open enrollment period for Medicare coverage runs from October 15 to December 7, 2021.

This is the annual period when existing Medicare beneficiaries can make changes and update their plans for 2022.

Changes made during this period go into effect on January 1, 2022.

Who can make changes during Medicare open enrollment?

This is when current recipients can make changes but not new ones. If you are interested in getting Medicare, the sign-up window is the three months before and three months after you turn 65. If you miss that window you must wait until Medicare’s general enrollment period, January 1 through March 31.

What’s new in 2022?

This excerpt from the official “Medicare & You 2022” handbook outlines the important updates for next year:

• COVID-19-related items & services
Medicare covers several items and services related to coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), like vaccines, diagnostic tests, antibody tests, and monoclonal antibody treatments.

• Cognitive assessment & care plan services
Medicare covers a cognitive assessment to help detect the earliest signs of cognitive impairment. Your doctor may perform this assessment during a routine visit. If you show signs of cognitive impairment, Medicare also covers a separate visit with your regular doctor or specialist to do a full review of your cognitive function, establish or confirm a diagnosis like dementia, including Alzheimer’s disease, and develop a care plan.

• Blood-based biomarker test
Medicare covers this screening test for colorectal cancer, in certain cases, once every 3 years.

What’s this packet I got from Medicare in the mail?

Every year, Medicare sends you an Annual Notice of Changes (ANOC) describing any changes to your current coverage, costs, or service area. Beware of other mail or calls about your Medicare information. Medicare will never call you for your Medicare number or ask you for personal information unless you reach out first. This information from Medicare provides helpful tips for preventing Medicare fraud: Help Fight Medicare Fraud.

This is a lot of information. Who can I call for help?

You will want to talk to the good people at SHIIP, the Senior Health Insurance and Information Program. They offer free and confidential counseling from trained volunteers to help Iowans sort through their Medicare options. There are two SHIIP Sponsor Sites in Linn County where you can set up an appointment with a counselor. You can contact them at:

• Mercy Medical Center, (319) 861-7887

• UnityPoint Health – St. Luke’s Hospital, (319) 369-7475

If you have any other questions about changes to your Medicare coverage, Meth-Wick is here to help. Contact Cindy Robertson at 297-8646 with any concerns.