UNITED STATES—Dear Toni, This is my first Medicare open/annual enrollment and I don’t know anything about this process? I have been receiving tons of marketing material which has confused me.  Which program is a good choice between Medicare Supplement and Medicare Advantage and which one is not? I do have some health problems and am concerned I am making the correct choice.

My friends have said if I make the wrong choice I could lose my Medicare.  I have a Masters Degree and this is totally stressing me out. If you can show me direction, I would really appreciate it. Thanks Fred from Tulsa, OK.

Dear Fred: I am asked this question at least 20 times a week and what we tell our clients during a Toni Says® Medicare consultation when they are trying to decide which option is best for their Medicare during Medicare’s Open/Annual Enrollment period. This period is from October 15 thru December 7 every year.

When it comes to a Medicare plan, there is not a one size fits all option or a best plan.  Take your time and search your options. You may be someone who only goes to the doctor once a year or you might be someone who has a long history of health issues.

1)      Talk to your doctor and see which type of plan he/she recommends either Original Medicare with a Medicare Supplement or Medicare Advantage plan.

2)      Discover which Medicare Part D plan fits your needs whether it is a standalone plan with a Medicare Supplement or a Medicare Advantage plan with Part D included

Many are concerned about what happens if they make the wrong choice by enrolling in a Medicare Advantage plan and need to disenroll to return to Original Medicare with a Medicare Supplement.  There are health issues which can keep one from qualifying due to health questions in a Medicare Supplement’s application.

Don’t worry, there are protections in place for this type of situation. A Medicare rule from the Medicare & You Handbook says: “If you join a Medicare Advantage Plan for the first time, and you aren’t happy with the plan, you’ll have special rights to buy a Medigap policy if you return to Original Medicare within 12 months of joining.”

Below are 6 ways that a Medicare beneficiary can make a change to their Medicare plans during Medicare Annual/Open Enrollment:

1)      Purchase a Part D Medicare Prescription Drug Plan.

2)      Change from one Medicare Prescription Drug Plan to a new Medicare Prescription Drug Plan.

3)      Enroll in a Medicare Advantage Plan with Prescription Drugs.

4)      Change from one Medicare Advantage Plan to a new Medicare Advantage Plan.

5)      Return to Original Medicare and purchase a Medicare Supplement and enroll in a Part D Medicare Prescription Drug Plan.

6)      Return to Original Medicare and enroll in a Part D Medicare Prescription Drug Plan.

Concerned that your medical providers/facilities are not accepting the Medicare Advantage plan you are considering or is applying for a Medicare Supplement your right option? Maybe you are concerned about the “famous” Part D prescription drug “donut hole”. Call the Toni Says® office at 832/519-8664 to have your Medicare questions or concerns answered or email info@tonisays.com. Visit www.abbs4u.com and attend ABBS (American Baby Boomer Society) Medicare courses.

Toni King, author of the new Medicare Survival Guide® Advanced offers a Toni Says® Medicare column readers discount available at www.tonisays.com.