Medicare’s annual Fall Open Enrollment Period (OEP) is a busy time for beneficiaries and advocates alike. From October 15 to December 7 each year, people with Medicare can make changes to their coverage, such as switching Part D prescription drug plans, or between Original Medicare and Medicare Advantage. Each fall, Medicare Rights provides both counseling and education to help people with Medicare weigh their options.
Medicare Rights’ National Consumer Helpline provides an additional service during Fall Open Enrollment: Medicare Plan Finder appointments, which are scheduled in advance through the helpline for callers who need extra assistance finding a drug plan. During each session, counselors navigate Plan Finder, Medicare’s online tool for comparing plans, over the phone to help clients assess their options based on the prescription drugs they take, their preferred pharmacy, and where they live. Counselors then follow up by sending the client a list of the top three most affordable plans that cover their drugs.
For this year’s Fall OEP, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has redesigned the Plan Finder tool. Medicare Rights staff had opportunities to review and give feedback on the new design based on their extensive experience using the tool on behalf of helpline clients. CMS considered comments from Medicare Rights and other advocates while making revisions before the official launch, but the redesigned Plan Finder could still present challenges when being used for the first time.
In addition to working with individual clients during Fall Open Enrollment, Medicare Rights facilitates educational presentations in New York City communities, supported by the City Council. Nationally, Medicare Rights releases a free, downloadable Fall Open Enrollment guide on Medicare Interactive each year, used by consumers and professionals, including journalists who reference the guide to provide accurate, unbiased Medicare information to their audiences. Medicare Rights is proud to be a go-to resource for Fall Open Enrollment guidance, from the local to the national level.