Medicare’s Open Enrollment Period (also called the “Annual Enrollment Period”) is each year from Oct. 15th — Dec. 7th. Each year this is your opportunity to do a Medicare Checkup:

  • Will my plan still be available in 2016?
  • Is my plan still affordable (looking at premiums AND copays)?
  • Are there any new health or drug plans available in my area that my favorite doctors will work with?

Here are some questions that we often hear from consumers:

Do I have to change plans?

No. If your plan works for you and provides coverage, is affordable and still available in your area then you can stay with that plan automatically. You may want to do that Medicare Check-up to look at all options.

If a plan premium is higher than others does it mean it is a “better” plan?

No. You should not base your decision solely on a plan premium. You should compare benefits and copays and make sure your doctor works with the plan. You might also want to check out the plan’s Medicare 5-Star Rating, which is available at after October 15th. Medicare looks at data received by the health plan and you, the customer, to rate the plans with a 1-Star (lowest) to a 5-Star (highest). Hawai‘i has been very lucky to have a 5-Star plan since Medicare started the ratings. We hope to have more than one 5-Star plan in 2016.

What is a Medicare Supplement (Medigap) policy?

A Medigap policy pays after Medicare and you may have little out of pocket costs. Private insurance companies sell it and the federal government in most states standardizes the benefits. What may differ is the premium and any specific state laws that apply.

I have tried to navigate the Medicare system and I need help. Who can I call in Hawai‘i?

You can call or email the Hawaii SHIP — State Health Insurance Assistance Program. We are a network of trained and certified volunteers who can help you walk through the system and screen to see if you qualify for any help paying for Medicare’s costs.

Hawai‘i SHIP (State Health Insurance Assistance Program)
1-888-875-9229 | 808-586-7299 | Hawaii SHIP

This SHIP project was supported, in part, by grant number 90SA0004-02-00 from the U.S. Administration for Community Living, Department of Health and Human Services, Washington, D.C., 20201. Grantees undertaking projects under government sponsorship are encouraged to express freely their findings and conclusions. Points of view or opinions do not, therefore, necessarily represent official Administration for Community Living policy.