In The News

November 21, 2014

Helpful Tips for Medicare Open Enrollment By Dr. Tracy Wakefield


There are only a few weeks left before Medicare Open Enrollment ends on Dec. 7, leaving limited time for seniors to make important changes to their Medicare health plans and prescription drug coverage. Medicare Open Enrollment, which occurs annually from Oct. 15 through Dec. 7, marks an important time of year for individuals older than 65. During this period each year, seniors with Medicare are able to change their Medicare coverage for the following year. For most seniors, this is the only time of year these changes can be made, which is why HealthCare Partners, a medical network with locations across Southern California, encourages seniors to review their health plans and ensure they have access to a coordinated, patient-focused network of health care providers.

Seniors have many details to keep in mind during this election period. There are often changes to Medicare health plans from year to year, so it is important for seniors to carefully review their plans to identify any modifications that might affect their access to care. It is essential for seniors to consider the costs, benefits and health care provider choices available.

It is also important to distinguish Medicare Open Enrollment from other health-related enrollment periods. Some people might confuse Medicare Open Enrollment with the open enrollment period for the state and federal exchanges under the Affordable Care Act. These are two separate enrollment periods and are not associated with each other.

Seniors might also want to explore Medicare Advantage plans, which may fit their health care needs. Many Medicare Advantage plans offer improved access to coordinated care and protection against high out-of-pocket expenses. Some of these plans also offer personalized telephone care management, health coaching, and education and support from health care professionals. These plans also serve as alternatives to Medicare Fee-For-Service plans.

Another key detail for seniors to consider during Open Enrollment this year is whether their coverage provides access to team-based care, an increasingly prevalent approach to health care in which a full team of health care providers, such as nurse practitioners and physician assistants, work alongside physicians to promote successful outcomes for patients, instead of patients engaging solely with doctors.

HealthCare Partners has successfully utilized this team-based approach for years in an effort to provide its patients with the highest quality of care. This collaborative approach is the cornerstone of the Total Care Model, which provides patients with access to a coordinated team of primary care providers, specialists, case managers and other professionals who work together to manage all aspects of patients’ care and overall health. This includes a strong focus on prevention and assisting patients with maximizing their health insurance benefits.

HealthCare Partners encourages seniors to learn more about Medicare Open Enrollment by visiting www.medicare.gov. People can also learn more about HealthCare Partners’ services at www.healthcarepartners.com or by calling 888.715.4922.