By Cashlee Cates, Financial Advocate Supervisor at Sheridan Memorial Hospital
There are two different but important, health insurance enrollment periods this time of year. The first is the open enrollment period for Medicare, which runs from October 15 through December 7. The second is the open enrollment period for the Health Insurance Marketplace, which runs November 1 through December 15.
For enrolling in Medicare, now is the time to take action. You can enroll in Medicare Advantage plans, Medicare Supplemental plans, or you can make changes to your existing plan during this same time period.
Enrolling in Medicare, or making changes to your existing Medicare plan, is done online at www.Medicare.gov. Once you are at the website, click on the “Sign Up/Change Plans” button at the top of the website and walk through the questions to provide the necessary information. There are many resources on this site to help answer frequently asked questions (FAQ) about general Medicare enrollment, Part D (drug coverage), the various costs of Medicare, general Medicare plan updates and much more.
If you have specific questions or don’t feel comfortable walking through the online process, the Hub on Smith is currently scheduling appointments to provide assistance with Medicare enrollment. To schedule your appointment, call 672-2240. It is important to call early on in this process as the appointment times fill up quickly.
If you are unable to get an appointment with the Hub, other resources are available for phone consultations across the state. Phone consultations may be available through:
- The Casper Senior Center – 877-634-1006
- Riverton Senior Center – 800-856-4398
- Wyoming Senior Citizens Inc. – 307-856-6880
There are many different resources available online to help provide answers to your Medicare questions. The few listed here offer excellent videos to walk you through the process:
www.MedicareOnVideo.com – This site provides a complete set of video tutorials about all things Medicare.
www.MedicareMadeClear.com – This site provides a series of videos on Medicare basics designed to simplify the four basic parts of Medicare.
Health Insurance Marketplace
Now, for those not quite ready to enter the world of Medicare, the Health Insurance Marketplace is for you; if you don’t have health insurance coverage already or want to explore options available to you. Remember, the Marketplace enrollment period is from November 1 through December 15, 2020.
Marketplace health plans offer essential health insurance benefits. These benefits cover things like doctors’ visits, prescriptions, hospitalizations, pregnancy and more. Preventive healthcare is another benefit offered through Marketplace plans. Some of the preventative benefits covered include blood pressure screenings, cholesterol screenings, immunizations and breast and cervical cancer screenings for adults. Preventive benefits for children include hearing screening, vision screening, behavioral assessments, developmental screening and immunization vaccines.
Plans through the State of Wyoming Healthcare Marketplace are available from Blue Cross Blue Shield of Wyoming. There are several ways to apply for coverage or look into coverage through the Marketplace program, including online, by phone, by paper application or with the assistance of a Certified Marketplace Navigator.
Sheridan Memorial Hospital (SMH) has Financial Advocates who are Certified Marketplace Navigators and are available to help you understand the coverage you could receive through a Marketplace plan. As Navigators, the Financial Advocates can explain plan options such as preventative care coverage, deductibles, out of pocket expenses and even dental care plans.
Your next question may be, can I get help paying for Marketplace coverage? You may qualify for financial help to lower the cost of your coverage. The Financial Advocates at SMH are here to help explain complex insurance options. If you are interested in assistance with the Health Insurance Marketplace, please call 675-4620 to make an appointment. You can also go to www.healthcare.gov to look into other options available through the Marketplace.