By Mike McCarthy
Seniors and other Medicare beneficiaries should be aware that this year — perhaps more than any year in the past — is an important one to pay attention to their Medicare coverage options during the open enrollment period (Oct. 15 – Dec. 7). And that’s because of the Affordable Care Act (ACA).
The ACA brings with it notable changes to Medicare, from more preventive care benefits to changes in costs, and beneficiaries need to understand both the upside and downside of such changes to best evaluate their options during the open enrollment period.
Adding to the challenge of this year’s Medicare changes is broader confusion around the ACA itself. UnitedHealthcare conducted a survey in 2013 called the Medicare Made Clear Index and found that 76 percent of people ages 60 and older say they have a “fair” or “poor” understanding of the ACA.
Thus, the open enrollment period becomes an even more critical time of year because, for most Medicare beneficiaries, it’s their one annual opportunity to make changes to their Medicare coverage. After all, Medicare is not one-size-fits-all, and a lot can change in a year in terms of health status and budget as well as the plans that are available.
I encourage the nearly 452,500 Medicare beneficiaries in the San Diego area and their caregivers to take advantage of this annual opportunity to make sure they have a Medicare plan that will meet their needs for the year ahead. People can shop for and compare plans in their area at www.Medicare.gov.
—Mike McCarthy is the regional vice president of UnitedHealthcare Medicare & Retirement in Southern California. Serving nearly one in five Medicare beneficiaries, including more than 943,000 in California, UnitedHealthcare Medicare & Retirement is the largest business dedicated to the health and well-being of seniors and other Medicare beneficiaries.