The Medicare annual enrollment period is fast approaching.

Between Oct. 15 and Dec. 7, everyone on Medicare will be allowed to re-evaluate features of their contracts to see if they’re getting the best coverage at the best price for Medicare Part B & D.

An alarming number – between 90 percent and 95 percent – of beneficiaries overspend on Medicare, according to a recent article in Investment News Magazine. We assume we’ll just re-enroll in the plan that we have, but that isn’t always the best thing to do. We have to do some homework.

Here are a few pointers to help you tackle the Medicare open enrollment season:

Do get organized early. Complete a list of your medications and healthcare providers to act as a sort of an organizer worksheet.

Read the new plan benefit summary. The insurance company sends one to each beneficiary. Look at more than just the premiums. See if copayments, coinsurance deductibles and other plan features will increase next year.

Call the insurance company or go online to find more information and verify that medications, doctors, hospitals and other health care providers will be covered and at what price.

Don’t assume a better plan is not available. Do not assume that medications and care providers will be covered next year for the same cost that they were last year, and don’t wait until the last minute to shop. It’s just too important.

Re-evaluating your Medicare contract is something you should do every year, but you’ve got to put some time and energy into it.

There are some good online resources including Medicare.gov. You can also call Medicare at 1-800-MEDICARE. Just remember the closer we get to the Dec. 7 deadline, the more likely you’re going to run into delays in getting good information.

Get started on this now. Do your research, and get on it as soon as the open enrollment starts on Oct. 15.

This information is sourced from the Dollar and Sense segment that airs each Saturday morning on the “MORE LIVING with Jim Brogan” radio show.

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