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Medicare open enrollment is here - what you need to know

Posted at 10:14 AM, Oct 16, 2020
and last updated 2020-10-16 12:50:01-04

Open enrollment for Medicare is here. Utahns who turn 65 this year may be wondering how to enroll and whether they even need to do so.

Brent Hess from Regence BlueCross BlueShield of Utah explains that, "Medicare is a federal health insurance program that essentially covers people who are 65 and older, or who have a qualifying disability."

Hess says that while it sounds simple enough, enrolling in Medicare can be quite complicated. Hess says Medicare is broken down into the following four parts."Part A covers hospital visits, facility charges, Part B of Medicare covers things like doctor’s visits, preventive care or other medical expenses, and then Part D covers prescription drug costs."

And Part C? Known as Medicare Advantage Plans - that's where private health insurers such as Regence BlueCross BlueShield come into play. This year Regence has expanded their offerings to serve even more of the state. Hess says, "We’ve done an 8 county expansion this year which will allow more people in Utah to benefit from the services that Regence offers."

Regence can also help you navigate your medicare options. Hess advises that you keep a few key things in mind when speaking to an expert. "Really consider things like premium costs, what does it actually cost when you go to the doctor, are there deductibles? Is your doctor in network? And are your medications covered?"

Hess also recommends finding out whether or not virtual or telehealth visits are covered, especially in the time of COVID-19.

For some, it is important to also weigh the options of staying on a current employer's plan, or that of a spouse. You should also consider whether or not you want to continue utilizing your health savings plan, rather than lose that benefit.

Many Utahns who are at this stage of their lives received an official Medicare and You 2021 handbook, which is another great resource to help you navigate Medicare open enrollment.

Regence also offers assitance online at or by phone at (844) 734-3623.