How to Prepare for Medicare Open Enrollment with Your Doctor

Proven Advice to Help you Get the Best Medicare Coverage for You

by Ryan Baker, MD, FAAFP

If you’re 65 or turning 65, you might be missing out on important health benefits, and now’s the perfect time to evaluate your healthcare needs with your primary-care provider. Medicare’s Open Enrollment Period, also referred to as the Annual Enrollment Period is the time you can join, switch, or drop a Medicare Health Plan or a Medicare Advantage Plan (Part C).

There are a lot of choices, and it can be confusing, but your primary-care provider knows your medical history better than anyone and should be one of your first stops when it comes to discussing your needs. Some of the top things to remember when preparing to take part in Open Enrollment are:

  1. Know the dates. You can’t start comparing actual costs until October 1, this is when the insurance companies unveil their plans for the coming year. Medicare’s Open Enrollment Period runs October 15 through December 7. This is when you can join, switch, or drop a Medicare Health Plan or a Medicare Advantage Plan (Part C).
  2. Know the network. Make sure your preferred doctors and hospitals are in your plan’s network. One of your first questions should be whether your primary-care provider and specialists are included in your plan. Don’t assume they are and don’t wait until after you’ve enrolled to check this. If your primary-care provider and specialist are not on your plan, you may end up paying higher out-of-network costs to see them. This may leave you having to choose a new primary-care provider or specialist.
  3. Learn the lingo. Understanding what terms like premium, co-insurance, and deductible mean can help you be more confident when comparing coverage and making decisions. The official Medicare website has a complete and most current list of Medicare terms and their meanings.
  4. Make an appointment to see your primary-care provider to discuss your healthcare priorities. Medicare plans center on preventive services, which is what your relationship with your primary-care provider is all about. Together, you can look at last year’s medical expenses and assess your prescription drug needs. (Most people don’t realize Original Medicare generally doesn’t cover prescription drugs.) Talk with your doctor about your individual healthcare needs and don’t base your Medicare decision solely on the monthly payment.

As your primary-care provider, I can let you know which plans we accept, discuss which you should consider based on your health history, and we can refer you to educational materials or enrollment forms that are conveniently located in our office common areas.

There’s a lot of information out there, and we care about the health of our patients and the community, so Millennium created our Medicare Connect program to connect you to the right Medicare resources and partners. Remember, you do have a choice when it comes to Medicare coverage. If you’re a Millennium patient and have questions about your Medicare coverage, contact our Medicare Navigator Olivia Pierrelouis at or 866.674.6880.

We can help you find a doctor who specializes in Medicare quality programs and the quality of care they deliver to patients on Medicare.

Dr. Ryan Baker

2299 9th Ave. N., Suite 1A

St. Petersburg, FL 33713