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Open Enrollment – How Did It Go?

While December 7th will always be “a day which will live in infamy,” it was also the last day for making a change for next year’s Medicare coverage. While we may not miss the endless commercials/emails/letters that bombarded us, we hopefully did take the opportunity to review our plans and compare them to the other plans that were available in our areas. The sad news is that historically only 30% of us take the time to make this comparison. What is keeping 70% of us from taking the time to conduct this comparison? To me it just doesn’t make sense that many of us are so frugal and financially responsible in other parts of our lives but choose to ignore this chance to possibly save thousands of dollars and avail us of the opportunity to be healthier and happier. Does it seem too complicated? Is making changes in our lives disconcerting? All of this could be true, but those excuses shouldn’t get in the way of us taking the time for this important review and they really shouldn’t get in the way of us taking a broader look at our overall health. It’s a good time to decide to really take charge of our own health.

I reviewed my Medicare Advantage plan and decided to remain with my current provider. This is not unusual – only 8 to 10% of those registered in Medicare Advantage plans change. I guess this indicates a pretty high level of satisfaction. I did identify some areas of my plan that had changed, and I made notes on those areas for next year’s review. Part of my review focused on my plan’s hearing coverage.

Contrary to my assertion that everyone in the world has started to mumble, it has been medically proven that my ability to hear has declined. Given that fact I was interested in my plan’s hearing benefits. I was also interested in the proposed addition of some level of hearing coverage in the Build Back Better legislation that is being actively discussed. In digging deeper into that proposed legislation I found that if this section of the legislation passes as written, that benefit would not start until 2023. Since my hearing is not going to improve and I don’t want to miss anymore of the conversations that go on around me, in January I’m going to take advantage of the almost $1,000 hearing aid benefit that is part of my current Medicare Advantage plan. I bore you with this personal story to emphasize that knowing the benefits of your own Medicare plan and understanding the impact of proposed legislation on your healthcare can help you make informed decisions.

So, the window of open enrollment has closed, what now? I propose that we make a new year’s resolution. Starting in January 2022 I propose that we take inventory of our own health. What tests or preventive healthcare have I postponed because of COVID or other reasons? What vaccinations have I postponed? When was my last colonoscopy? When was the last breast exam of a loved one? A Medicare wellness exam is a good first step. I think another good 2022 resolution is to gather all of your health records into one, easily accessible place. I had a little scare earlier this year and had a series of heart related tests including a stress test. The tests gave me the good news that everything was just fine. I’m now going to work hard to get all of the results of those tests so that I have a baseline to compare future tests to as I get older. You have a right to have a copy of all of your test results and they can prove invaluable in the future.

Each of us made important decisions on how we would deal with the ongoing COVID pandemic. We need to broaden our perspective and take command of our total health – physical and mental. We here at Seniors Speak Out will keep you up to date on what healthcare changes Washington is proposing so you can include that in your decision of what’s best for you. 2022 will be a great year for each of us to take command of our health.

Best, Thair