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Medicare Open Enrollment Period Ending Soon

Photo courtesy of 401(K)2012 via Flickr

The open enrollment period for Medicare coverage ends December 7th. For many seniors, it’s an opportunity to review their current coverage, and for those turning 65, it’s time to decide what coverage you will need for the next year.

The current Medicare options are somewhat confusing to those not familiar with the system. The original Medicare offering began in 1966. It’s run by the US Government, and uses about 30–50 private insurance companies across the United States under contract for administration.

When someone turns 65 , they’re eligible for the basic Medicare, which covers hospitalization. Part B is something you elect to purchase, and the cost is deducted from your Social Security. It covers outpatient and physician visits. Within those coverages are deductibles and co pays.

Part D covers prescriptions but is purchased through a private insurer. Then there is Part C, also known as Medicare Advantage. Jeff Underwood of United Healthcare , an insurance company is Spokane, explains it’s is a mix of the plans, “If you were to elect your Medicare Advantage plan, you would get part A and B coverage, and general part D through one plan. They take over your Medicare benefits, and offer different benefits than traditional Medicare would offer.” The Advantage plan can also have lower deductibles and co pays.

Underwood says this open enrollment period is a chance for folks to decide if they need to change their coverage based on their specific health and prescription needs. The enrollment period ends December 7th. You can find more specifics about the various plans at the website

Steve was part of the Spokane Public Radio family for many years before he came on air in 1999. His wife, Laurie, produced Radio Ethiopia in the late 1980s through the '90s, and Steve used to “lurk in the shadowy world” of Weekend SPR. Steve has done various on air shifts at the station, including nearly 15 years as the local Morning Edition host. Currently, he is the voice of local weather and news during All Things Considerd, writing, editing, producing and/or delivering newscasts and features for both KPBX and KSFC. Aside from SPR, Steve ,who lives in the country, enjoys gardening, chickens, playing and listening to music, astronomy, photography, sports cars and camping.