Senior Living Advice: Medicare Open Enrollment for 2020 begins Oct. 15


By Beth Dow, Solutions By Beth

Open Enrollment for 2020 Medicare opens October 15th and runs through December 7th.

If you or a loved one is new to Medicare, you owe it to yourself to find out all you can now so there are no surprises later.

Let’s begin with a few definitions.

There are two main types of costs to consider:  Medicare premiums – a monthly amount you pay to belong to a Medicare plan; and Medicare deductibles – the amount of money that you will pay out of pocket for covered services before your plan coverage begins.

There are four basic parts.

Part A covers hospital stays, skilled nursing, hospice and some home health services.

Part B covers doctor visits, outpatient services, and medical equipment.

Part C plans (also called Medicare Advantage) are sold by private insurance companies.  Part C provides you the same coverage as Part A and Part B.

Medicare Part D covers prescriptions and can also be purchased on the private market.

The Medicare rate increases for 2020  have not been announced yet, but for 2019 Medicare Part A premiums were $240 or $437 per month.  Part B deductibles were $185 per year. Part C, or Medicare Advantage cost vary since they are sold by private insurance, but have decreased over recent years, And Part D was around $41 a month.

There are other expenses that are not covered under Medicare.  Routine vision checks, eyeglasses, and contacts are not covered under Medicare.   Hearing Aid costs are not covered. Medicare does not pay for routine teeth cleaning, x-rays, fillings or root canals.  It does not pay for dentures or gum or oral surgery. Custodial Care – which includes non-medical home care, assisted living and nursing home care – is not covered by Medicare. Neither are chiropractic treatments nor acupuncture.

If you are spending your “golden” years traveling, you should also be aware that Medicare does not cover you when you are outside of the United States.  There are Medicare Advantage plans that will cover emergency costs out of the United States and you can purchase a Medigap Policy that can help pay up to $50,000 of medical expenses while you are outside of the U.S.

One last surprise to be aware of.  If you are held in the hospital under observation and then require rehabilitation, Medicare will not pay for your rehab.  You must be admitted to the hospital for three days, for your Medicare to kick in for the rehabilitation.  Just because you spend the night in the hospital, does not mean you have been admitted.

Spend October learning the facts and finding out what plans will work best for you.  You will be making decisions that you have to live with for a year. Make the best educated decision for you and your loved one.


Beth Dow is a Dementia and Alzheimer’s Educator, CAEd, Geriatric Case Manager and Certified Senior Advisor. Contact her at [email protected].

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