Steps to a Happy Medicare New Year

Winter preparations are done, and winter festivals and end-of-year celebrations are over. But just when you think you can sit back and relax, there is still one last item you may need to consider.

If you made any changes to your Medicare plan during the Annual Enrollment Period, there are some actions you can take that may help you have a happy Medicare new year.

If you enrolled in a new plan or your plan had changes during the Annual Enrollment Period, you should make sure you’ve received your new member ID card. This card contains the newest info for your 2020 care.

Be sure to show your new ID card to the doctor’s office and pharmacist during your first visit of the new year so that they have your newest information on file. You also might have new deductibles, and whether they’re new or not, they start over at the beginning of the year.

If you decided to stay with Original Medicare, you’ll still use your red, white, and blue Medicare card for hospital and doctor services.

If you joined a Medicare prescription drug plan that works with Original Medicare, the plan will mail you a card so you can fill your prescriptions. If you joined a Medicare Advantage plan, you’ll also get a new card to use for both healthcare visits (doctor and hospital) and for picking up your prescriptions.

If you need medical care or need to fill a prescription before you receive the ID card but after coverage begins, you may be able to use other proof of plan membership. Some examples are the welcome letter you got from the plan or even your enrollment confirmation number and the plan name and phone number.

If you elected to have your plan premium withheld from your Social Security check, don’t be alarmed if you don’t see it deducted right away. It may take up to 3 months from the time you made the premium withhold request before you start seeing your premium withheld from your Social Security payment.

This year is a great time to take advantage of your one-time Welcome to Medicare visit (available when you first join Medicare) or your annual wellness visit. This benefit is usually no cost to you. It’s designed as a preventive measure to help you take charge of your health, be advised of future needed preventive services, and establish a baseline for personalized care. And speaking of preventive measures, many Medicare Advantage plans come with a fitness benefit or provide access to physical fitness activities at no cost to you.

I wish you all a happy and healthy 2020!

Jessica Arroyo is a community liaison for Health Alliance Northwest, serving Chelan, Douglas, Grant, and Okanogan counties in Washington. Born and raised in the Wenatchee Valley, during her time off, she enjoys spending time with her husband and her two very busy kids.

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