For some people, turning 65 is traumatic enough. Adding the additional burden of determining the future of your health care elevates many people into panic mode. For almost a year before your birthday, you start receiving unwanted phone calls and tons of brochures filling your mailbox. By the time someone walks through my door for help in picking a plan they are shell shocked — and rightly so.

Selecting a Medicare supplemental plan is confusing. Should I go with a Medigap or Medicare advantage plan? If a supplement, which one should I choose out of the alphabet of plans out there? If an Advantage plan, do I go with a PPO or HMO? If Medigap, what Part D plan do I add on?

The questions are endless, but with competent help ultimately you settle on the “perfect” plan. Only to be told you need to do it all over again during the annual enrollment period that starts October 15th and ends December 7th to make sure you have the best plan for the upcoming year.

Now, before you start having heart palpitations, let me assure you that if you are happy with your current plan, and have no concerns about coverage and cost, you don’t need to do anything during the annual enrollment period. Your plan will continue through the next year just like it works today.

But — as I’ve said numerous times before — you owe it to yourself to review your current plan to insure you have all the benefits you’re entitled to, and a plan that is best suited for your current health situation. This enrollment period only pertains to Medicare Advantage and Prescription Drug plans. If you have a Medigap plan, you can change at any time — as long as you can pass the medical underwriting questions.

Everyone has heard those commercials about these wonderful plans that cover “everything” and then some. The reality is there are Medicare Advantage plans that do cover everything that Original Medicare covers, plus many additional benefits that make these plans very attractive. For many of you, this is a perfect time to take a Medicare Advantage plan for a test drive.

Is it right for you? Should you switch from Medigap to Advantage? Should you stay with Medigap and change Part D coverage? These, and many more, are valid questions — and you need credible answers.

My frustration is with people who say to me “I’m happy — why review”? The answer is simple.

Every year the Center for Medicare & Medicaid Services reviews plans and provides insurance carriers with opportunities to enhance, change and bolster their plans. Giving consumers more coverage, lower costs and better plans. Why wouldn’t you want to sit down with someone knowledgeable, for free I might add, and see if it’s right for you.

For those of you who have either Medigap Plan C or Plan F, you might have heard that these plans are going away as of January 1, 2020. Stay calm! If you are enrolled in one of these plans now, you will be able to keep it. No one will be taking away your Plan C or Plan F. It’s just that no new people can enter into those plans after December 31, 2019.

So what’s the issue?

Well, with no new bodies entering the plan and, through attrition, people leaving the plan, the risk pool will shrink and eventually your premiums will rise even faster than they do now. So for those on such plans, it’s even a wiser idea to review and see what’s out there. Some companies are offering those on Plan F to move to Plan G without medical underwriting — which is a great benefit if you have any chronic illnesses.

For those who’ve called regarding Medicare 101 classes, there will not be any through the annual enrollment period. But I will be holding educational seminars throughout the Grand Traverse region in September, October and November that will cover all the basics and then some. Email me for places, dates and times.

So remember the three “R’s” — review, revise and reward yourself with the best plan in 2020.

Fred L. Goldenberg is a certified senior advisor (CSA) and the owner of Senior Benefit Solutions LLC, a financial services and certified health insurance organization in Traverse City. Questions or comments about this column or interest in our monthly Medicare classes can be directed to (231) 922-1010 or

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