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Nearly two-thirds of seniors don’t know that the Medicare enrollment period is early this year, a survey shows, and that could cost them.

It’s Medicare season once again, but it’s early this time. Unfortunately, many seniors just haven’t gotten the message. The open enrollment period is now from October 15 to December 7. And that’s a whole month earlier than in the past.

According to a recent survey in Florida and reported through the Kaiser Health News, nearly two-thirds of seniors are unaware that Medicare enrollment is earlier this year. So, why the change? The Affordable Care Act.

Along with the accelerated enrollment period, it is hoped that beneficiaries will have their Medicare cards by the start of the New Year. Customarily, late enrollees find themselves in a bit of a pickle (i.e., without their Medicare cards) come January 1. While the start date this year is non-memorable (October 15), the deadline isn’t for most Americans of Medicare eligibility age (December 7).

Of course, the enrollment period isn’t the only change afoot with Medicare. Like last Medicare season, the sheer number of plans has been pared down in an effort to make selection easier.

Planning pointer: Review your anticipated medical needs (or those of your senior loved ones) to determine whether a change in plan is warranted. As a result, you could stand to save hundreds – or even thousands – of dollars. Many seniors don’t make plan changes out of habit. Accordingly, some diligent (and gentle) prodding may be in order.

Reference: The Kaiser Health News (October 4, 2011) “Changes Take Seniors By Surprise”


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