As a friendly reminder, the Medicare Open Enrollment period takes place annually from October 15 through December 7. This is your chance to review your current medical and prescription drug plan(s) to take note of any changes in the cost or coverage and, if needed, switch to another plan that may better meet your medical needs, save you money or both.

Eligible enrollees have the option to select Original Medicare or opt for a Medicare Advantage plan. When considering Original Medicare, be sure to check if you’re eligible to purchase supplemental insurance, known as Medigap, to help cover the 20% coinsurance costs not covered by Medicare. In many instances, selecting Original Medicare with Medigap supplemental insurance may be may be the best option for you, especially if you want to have a broad network doctors and facilities you want to use for your care. On the other hand, some Medicare Advantage plans may offer additional benefits not offered in traditional Medicare, such as dental or vision coverage.

Accessible and affordable health care coverage is vital for dialysis patients. Therefore, it is really important to consider the following factors when choosing Medicare coverage that’s right for you:

  • Make sure that your dialysis clinic and doctors are in-network. Due to the required frequency of dialysis and other medical needs, out-of-network costs are usually unaffordable for most dialysis patients.
  • Ensure that your prescription drugs are also included on the plan’s formulary. Drugs not included in your plan’s formulary may not be affordable to you, especially when there is no generic version available.
  • Check if the plan offers other benefits such as dental, vision or non-emergency transportation coverage to help meet your health care needs. Dental coverage can be paramount to qualifying for a transplant.
  • Calculate the plan’s deductible, co-pay and other out-of-pocket costs that factor into total annual cost. The plan with the lowest monthly premium may not always be the best choice in meeting your specific health coverage needs.

During the Medicare Open Enrollment period, you can also check whether you are eligible for Medicare Savings Program. Such programs provide financial assistance to qualifying lower income patients to help pay insurance premiums, prescription drugs and other health care costs.

For more information, visit where you can do a side-by-side cost and coverage comparison of available plans or call 1-800-MEDICARE to speak with someone for counseling or assistance.  You should also talk to the social worker in your dialysis facility.