Many Seniors Leave Money On The Table During Medicare Open Enrollment

by Michael Polen, WellCare

November 27, 2017

Help is available for seniors shopping for the best deal for them

It’s that time of year again: open enrollment. It’s the time when millions of seniors across the country who are eligible for Medicare can make changes to their health care coverage. Like any open enrollment period, it’s a time to evaluate options, shop for the best deals, and select a plan that fits your budget and health needs.

But seniors are more likely to look for money-saving deals on utilities, cell phone and internet plans, travel deals, and groceries than health care, according to WellCare’s new survey, “The Cost of Complacency.” In fact, only one-third of seniors said they shop around for a Medicare plan at all.

This can be a costly mistake.

It’s crucial for seniors to evaluate their coverage needs, not based on the past, but rather on what they anticipate for the future.

Look beyond the traditional “checklist” items, such as physician participation and prescription drug coverage, to whether diagnostics, dental, vision, and behavioral health counseling are included.

When Medicare coverage plans are set on auto-pilot, seniors may leave money on the table. According to a Kaiser Health study, people who switched Medicare plans after comparison shopping saved on average almost $200 a year.

Seniors confess they ignore reviewing their coverage because the process is often painful, frustrating, and confusing. In fact, one in four respondents to our survey rate reviewing their Medicare plan among the top two most unpleasant experiences—followed by other unpleasant experiences like getting a colonoscopy, doing taxes, and renewing driver’s licenses.

Despite the difficulties of reviewing their coverage, most seniors choose to review their plan by themselves rather than seek out help, and seniors are least likely to involve their adult children or other caregivers in the process.

But there’s still time and help: Open enrollment runs through Dec. 7, and seniors can take advantage of 24-hour assistance lines and local help centers where trained professionals can walk seniors through the enrollment process.

In today’s environment, seniors should look at the changes and innovations that have occurred in Medicare Advantage, and how the right coverage can meet their needs.

Michael Polen is WellCare’s executive vice president, Medicare and operations. To learn more, visit www.CostofComplacency.com