| Thu, Oct 18, 2012 @ 09:00 AM

OEP Boot Camp: Assess Your Health Care Needs

Posted by Medicare Made Clear

Medicare OEP bootcampThe first in a 6-post series designed to help you make informed Medicare choices for 2013

It’s a good thing that the Medicare Open Enrollment Period (OEP) happens every year. Why? Because things can change, including your health. And changes in your health may change what you need from your Medicare coverage.

The Open Enrollment Period is October 15 – December 7. This is your chance to choose the coverage that you think best fits your needs. The Medicare decisions you make now will be in place for all of 2013. You won’t be able to make any changes until the next Open Enrollment Period a year from now, unless you qualify for an exception.

OEP Boot Camp is a step-by-step guide to gathering information that can help you make Medicare decisions. You may want to start a file to keep track of what you learn and collect through the process.

Step 1 is to assess your health care needs. Of course, it’s impossible to predict all of your needs. We can’t know what might happen. The key is to focus on what you do know—the state of your health and how you use health care services. Let’s get started.

Your Health Status

How is your health, in general? Has it changed significantly in the past year?

Any changes in your health status could mean that you will require more or less care and services in the future. A new diagnosis may mean you need to go to the doctor more than you have in the past. Perhaps you have a planned surgery or procedure coming up. Or maybe you had a health problem that’s been resolved.

It’s a good idea make a list of the health problems you received care for over the past year. Some may be ongoing such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol or a chronic condition like diabetes. Remember to include any vision or hearing problems as well. Other health problems may have been one-time needs. This might include an illness or injury that was treated and healed. It’s important to know what services you may not need anymore as well as those you will. It’s a good idea to list the medications you are taking at this time as well.

Your Health Care

Now consider how you use health care services. How often do you visit the doctor, in general? Do you see any specialists? Do you live in a long-term care residence or skilled nursing facility (nursing home)? These questions touch on some examples. The services you use may be different.

A review of the health care services you received over the past year can be a good gauge for what you may need next year. The summary of benefits that you periodically get from Medicare or your Medicare Advantage plan is a good source of information. It lists the services you received and the costs. You can use these statements to identify those services that you think you’ll continue to need. You will also be able to see any that were one-time needs.

Now What?

Understanding your health needs is a good first step toward making your Medicare decisions. Over the course of this series, we’ll discuss costs, coverage considerations and more. The goal is to help you help you make informed choices during the Open Enrollment Period.

You have from now until December 7 to change your Medicare coverage choices, if you wish to. In addition to this blog series, you can get help from these resources:

  • Medicare.gov, where you can download a copy of Medicare & You 2013 and find other helpful information
  • Private health insurance company web sites for information about 2013 Medicare Advantage (Part C) and Medicare prescription drug (Part D) plans
  • The 2013 Annual Notice of Change mailed to you from your Medicare Part C or Part D plan, if you’re currently enrolled in one
  • A licensed health insurance agent in your community who can discuss all your plan choices with you

Also, be sure to report back to OEP Boot Camp for our next topic, Consider Your Health Care Budget. Our goal is to help you make informed choices during the Medicare Open Enrollment Period.

For more information, contact the Medicare helpline 24 hours a day, seven days a week at 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227), TTY 1-877-486-2048. If you have questions about Medicare Made Clear, call 1-877-619-5582, TTY 711, 8 a.m. – 8 p.m. local time, seven days a week.

Resources

Review Your Health and Budget Needs: Get more help in understanding your needs.

Medicare Choices Worksheet: Download a worksheet to help match your needs to coverage choices.

Medicare.gov: Visit the official U.S. government site for Medicare.

Read other posts in this series:

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