Need to enroll in Medicare? Here's what you need to know before you pick a plan

John Gregory Image
Wednesday, October 18, 2023
What to know about Medicare enrollment
What to know about Medicare enrollment

Now is the time to choose the right Medicare plan for next year. Open enrollment started a couple of days ago and runs until Dec. 7.

It's an opportunity for Medicare beneficiaries to make sure their plan covers what they need, at a price they can afford. There are a lot of decisions to make, from what policy to use to any supplement plans.

Just three in 10 Medicare users shop for a new plan during open enrollment, according to the health nonprofit Kaiser Family Foundation.

If you don't comparison shop, you could miss a plan that's a better fit.

"Those plans can change every year, so it really is important to review your options and make sure that the coverage that you have is what you want to keep," Aetna Medicare President Terri Swanson said. "Look at other options that might be better for you based on things that have changed in your own life or in the underlying plans."

Swanson said as you decide on your Medicare plan, keep these things in mind:

  • What has changed: Read the "annual notice of change" from your current provider.
  • Decide if the plan still fits your budget: Look at the cost of the premium, deductibles, out-of-pocket maximums and cost shares for different services.
  • Are your providers still in-network: That includes your doctor, hospitals and your preferred pharmacy. Instead of comparing individual policies, it may be easier to ask your doctor directly which plans are accepted.
  • Review your prescription drug coverage: Make sure your drugs are covered, and see if the cost-share price or deductible has changed.

"Things like fitness benefits, vision, dental, hearing -- these things may be more important to one person than another," Swanson said.

Medicare open enrollment also creates an opportunity for scammers to steal your personal information. There are a few red flags to look out for.

If you're over age 65, you're likely being bombarded by ads for Medicare plans in your mailbox, your TV or even through your phone. Along with all the ads, you may also be contacted by a scammer offering their "help."

The FTC said scammers will often appear official, pretending to be connected to the program or well-known businesses.

If someone contacts you unexpectedly, do not give out your personal information. Medicare will not reach out without notice and ask for your information. If you are ever unsure, hang up and call 1-800-medicare.

If it's an email or a text, do not click on links, open any attachments or call numbers listed. Delete the message and report it to

However, if you are looking for help reviewing your Medicare plan, there is real help available.

"There are some really good, trusted resources out there for Medicare beneficiaries," Swanson said. "One good one is You can look based on your zip code and see all of the plan options that are available to you."

Medicare's plan tool can help you compare your options. There's also a live chat option and a 24/7 hotline during open enrollment.

You can use the State Health Insurance Assistance Program by going to for unbiased advice. Private brokers can also help but many work off commission.

For those who are eligible for both Medicare and Medicaid, you can take advantage of California's My Care, My Choice program to maximize your coverage.

Join us every weekday morning on Eyewitness News at 5 a.m. for our new segment, ABC7 On Your Side. John Gregory has you covered on money-saving tips, including tricks to save on your bills, smart negotiating tactics, plus where you can score free stuff!