UNITED STATES—Toni: I just received a phone call saying there is a federal law that I change my Medicare during Medicare’s Open Enrollment? The Toni Says® office helped us with our Medicare decision in January when my husband retired from his job of 30+ years. Now it seems we must do this all over again. Could you explain what we need to do?

This is our first Medicare open enrollment experience and don’t want to make the wrong move. Please advise one should look for. Thanks, Georgia.

Georgia: There is always a bit of confusion around Medicare Open/Annual Enrollment season, but this year there is more stress and worry with Medicare’s Supplement Plan C & F changes.

Good news Georgia…there is not a federal law that says you must make a change to your Medicare during Medicare’s Open Enrollment. You do not have to change your Medicare Supplement that you and your husband enrolled in.

If you want to enroll in a Medicare Advantage plan or change your Medicare Part D Prescription Drug plan, then Medicare Annual/Open Enrollment which is between October 15 to December 7 is the time to change your plan.

The new Medicare plan whether Medicare Advantage or Medicare Part D Prescription drug plan will become effective January 1.

Below are Toni Says® Medicare Tips to help simplify Medicare’s Open/Annual Enrollment and understand what your options can be:

Toni Says® Medicare Tip #1: Learn your Medicare ABC& Ds.

Medicare Part A is inpatient hospital coverage.

Medicare Part B is for medical/outpatient coverage such as doctor visits, doctor performing surgery, outpatient surgery, X-rays, MRIs, durable medical equipment, etc. A Medicare Supplement can help you with your Original Medicare out of pocket costs.

Medicare Part C is Medicare Advantage plans that combines both Medicare Part A and B benefits with some plans having Medicare Part D prescription drugs included. Some Medicare Advantage plans offer extra benefits such as vision, dental, hearing or fitness memberships.

Medicare Part D is for prescription drugs, both stand-alone plans and Medicare Advantage Plans with Part D that have the “famous” donut hole.

Toni Says® Medicare Tip #2: Not all Medicare Advantage Plans are the same. Plans and benefits differ from company to company and even state to state. Do your research especially if you will be moving to a new state or a new zip code within your current state.

Toni Says® Medicare Tip #3: Compare Medicare Part D plans every Medicare Open/Annual Enrollment. Plans can change benefits and the drug formulary for the next year and try to stay out of that year’s donut hole.

Toni Says® Medicare Tip #4: Don’t choose on premium alone. Make sure there aren’t hidden copays or other fees that will end up costing you money.

Concerned about what Medicare Open/Annual Enrollment options are available for you? Call the Toni Says Medicare Hot Line at 832-519-8664 to have your Medicare questions or concerns answered or email info@tonisays.com.

Toni King, author of the Medicare Survival Guide® is giving a $5 discount on the  Medicare Survival Guide® Advanced book at www.tonisays.com. Have a Medicare question?