Dec. 7 is Deadline for Medicare Open Enrollment

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by Patricia Inacio PhD |

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The ALS Association is reminding amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) patients and caregivers that the open enrollment period for Medicare recipients to make changes to their existing coverage runs through Dec. 7.

The open enrollment period for altering coverage opened Friday. After Dec. 7. changes will be allowed only after a qualifying life event.

According to according to a post on the the ALS Association website, this time period is an important opportunity for people with ALS to review their current plan and make changes to cover potential needs for tests and/or medications. Changes will take effect Jan. 1.

By accessing the ALS Medicare Resource Line patients and caregivers may talk with Medicare experts to help choose the best plan coverage.

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Navigating Medicare’s system can be a challenging and overwhelming endeavor. An ALS Focus survey program found that understanding medical insurance coverage is a source of marked stress for people with ALS.

To assist patients during the Medicare open enrollment period, the ALS Association has partnered with the Patient Advocate Foundation.

“It’s really important that individuals start to think about the Medicare coverage and what that will look like in 2022, carefully reviewing their current Medicare coverage and noting any upcoming changes that they may have to any, treatments or therapies, any tests or medications that they have, decide if their current Medicare coverage will meet their needs for the year ahead,” said Courtney Jones, senior director, case management for the Patient Advocate Foundation.

Connecting ALS, a podcast the ALS Association does in partnership with CitizenRacecar, recently welcomed Neil Thakur, PhD, chief mission officer at the ALS Association and Courtney Jones.

Thakur talked about efforts to make sure Medicare works for people with ALS. Jones discussed the Medicare open enrollment period and shared helpful tips to navigate the system. The full episode is available here.

Medicare is available to people ages 65 and older. It also is available to everyone eligible for Social Security Disability Insurance, including ALS patients.

Medicare has two main components, called Part A and Part B.

Part A is hospital insurance; it covers hospital visits, hospice care, and skilled nursing facilities. Part B works as a medical insurance and broadly covers doctor’s visits, home health care services, acquisition of durable medical equipment, and some hospital outpatient services. Part B includes a monthly premium.

Medicare beneficiaries can opt to receive their Medicare benefits through private health insurance plans. This is covered by Medicare Part C, also called Medicare Advantage.