Starting in the month of October, those of us who are eligible need to make our Medicare elections. This is the Annual Enrollment Period (AEP). AEP occurs every year and this year takes place from October 15th to December 7th. Choices made will start on January 1, 2017.

Medicare provides notice of the open enrollment period to seniors. AARP and insurance companies will use targeted and directed advertising to promote their plans to them. The good news is annual open enrollment allows seniors to evaluate their changing health needs and determine whether their current plan is meeting and will meet those needs in the next year.

If your current plan meets your needs, nothing needs to be done. If you decide to change your current plan you must take steps to enroll. Research is essential and time consuming but you should be asking the questions that most pertain to your health care needs such as who are the plan’s providers, what specialists will you have access to and what is the difference in co-payments (and for what services). Best practice is to start early before the enrollment period so you will be ready to enroll at the beginning of the enrollment period. If you haven’t made your elections yet, I recommend you get your decisions made by the end of the month.

I bring this up with you because it is so often overlooked. I find myself talking to you about your health care decision making planning and what happens in the absence of it. What we don’t focus on is all the other facets of health care that impact your life and the wealth of information I am privy to based on my profession as a lawyer and a CPA. Our local Office of the Aging does a great job of keeping all of us up-to-date on the types of plan available and you can call them at (607) 936 – 4661. If you find yourself asking these questions for yourself or for your friends and family and want to know how they are related to your estate planning documents, please schedule an appointment with me in my office so we can discuss your health care planning documents to make sure they are what you need right now, as we all know things change and it may be time for an update.