Medicare open enrollment

Open Enrollment for Medicare: Should You Stay or Should You Go?
Provided by Optum

This fall, you and more than 56 million Americans1 will make an important decision: stay with your existing Medicare plan or go with a new one.

Every year from October 15 – December 7, Medicare holds its annual Open Enrollment Period (Open Enrollment). During this seven-week window, Medicare beneficiaries can make changes to their health and prescription drug plans for the following year.

If you are satisfied with your Medicare coverage, you may wonder how Open Enrollment applies to you. As the old adage goes, “if it isn’t broken, don’t fix it,” right? 

While this may certainly be the case for many things in life, it may not be true about your Medicare coverage. Choosing a Medicare plan is similar to shopping for other insurance: by comparing different plans and rates, you can select the coverage that’s best for you.

Regardless of your existing coverage, it is worthwhile to look at other plans, check out what is new this year, and make sure you know your options. By looking at different plans in your area, you may find one that better suits your needs for 2018.

The importance of reviewing your Medicare plan

Before October 15, it is important to review your Medicare plan for a few reasons:

1. Your plan may change. The cost and coverage of your Medicare plan may change each year. To make sure that your plan meets your needs in 2018, medicare.gov recommends reviewing the materials that your plan sends you, such as the “Evidence of Coverage” (EOC) and “Annual Notice of Change” (ANOC).2

2. New options may be available. Research shows that people with Medicare Part D (prescription drug coverage) can lower their costs by shopping among plans each year.3 In addition, certain plans offer additional benefits not provided by Original Medicare. For example, Medicare Advantage Plans are required to offer more benefits to their members, such as dental, vision, transportation services, cancer screenings, or wellness visits.

3. Your health needs evolve. From year to year, your needs may change. You may find that you want more coverage than you currently have, or want to possibly add a few additional benefits for next year. By planning ahead, you can ensure that you have the care you expect and deserve in 2018.

Prepare for Open Enrollment now

With Open Enrollment just around the corner, it’s important that you start looking at plans now. But sometimes, having so many options can cause confusion. By remembering the “4 C’s”, you can focus on the most important aspects of each Medicare plan:

  • Cost How much will you spend on premiums, deductibles, and copays? 
  • Coverage – Are the services, exams, and drugs you need included? 
  • Convenience – Are the doctor’s offices, pharmacies, and hospitals nearby?
  • Care – Can you receive care from your doctor(s) of choice?

Help is available

The most important reason to review your Medicare plan is to make sure you are getting the care you expect and deserve. Thankfully, there are plenty of resources available to help you through this process.

HealthCare Partners is one such resource. Affiliated with 14 Medicare Advantage Plans, more than 30 hospitals , and a variety of urgent care and walk-in centers, HealthCare Partners offers care options tailored for each individual patient.

Optum patients have access to more than 1,800 primary care physicians and 4,500 specialists throughout Southern California. Patients who are chronically ill or frail benefit from personalized care programs, and all patients have access to health education classes and 24/7 telephone support.

Optum welcomes most major health insurance plans, including Medicare Advantage Plans and Original Medicare. Whether you are a current Optum patient or simply exploring your Medicare options, you can call 1-888-715-4922 to learn more.

Additional resources for Medicare beneficiaries

  • Call 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227) 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
  • Visit medicare.gov to compare plans in your area.
  • Receive “Medicare & You 2018” in the mail from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS).

This is for informational purposes only. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has neither reviewed nor endorsed this information. For a complete listing of health plans in your area, please contact 1.800.MEDICARE (TTY users should call 1.877.486.2048), 24 hours a day/7 days a week or consult medicare.gov.


1. https://www.hhs.gov/about/budget/fy2018/budget-in-brief/cms/medicare/index.html
2. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. Medicare & You: https://www.medicare.gov/pubs/pdf/10050-Medicare-and-You.pdf
3. Medicare Rights Center. (n.d.). 6 Things to Know About Fall Open Enrollment. 

This site does not provide medical advice. This website is for informational purposes only.