According to a recent survey, more than 60 percent of Medicare beneficiaries have never shopped around to find health or prescription drug coverage that might better suit their needs, despite their annual opportunity to do so during the Open Enrollment Period (through Dec. 7). That's unfortunate because Medicare is not a one-size-fits-all program, and a lot can change in a year in terms of people's health status and budget, as well as the plans that are available.
Perhaps even more concerning is the confusion surrounding the new state health insurance marketplaces (also called "exchanges"). The survey found that more than a third of older adults who are aware of the exchanges incorrectly believe that Medicare beneficiaries can shop for and enroll in Medicare coverage through them. Simply put: People cannot enroll in Medicare plans through the exchanges.
Decisions about health coverage are important and personal. I encourage the more than 304,000 Medicare beneficiaries in the Portland area as well as their caregivers to take action during open enrollment by evaluating their options and deciding if they should switch to a new plan that would better meet their needs. The Open Enrollment Period for Medicare began on Oct. 15 and continues until Dec. 7. Like in years past, people can shop for and compare plans in their area at www.Medicare.gov.
Jeff Underwood is the regional vice president of UnitedHealthcare Medicare & Retirement in Portland. Serving nearly one in five Medicare beneficiaries, UnitedHealthcare Medicare & Retirement is the largest business dedicated to the health and well-being of seniors and other Medicare beneficiaries.