The Medicare Open Enrollment Period is from Oct. 15 through Dec. 7 and Spectrum Generations is available to help older adults stay informed and answer their questions about Medicare, Medicare Advantage, and MaineCare, Medigap and other programs and benefits that supplement Medicare.

Each year Medicare health and drug plans can make changes to things like premium cost, coverage and which providers and pharmacies are in their networks. People in a Medicare health or prescription drug plan should always review the materials their plans send them, like the “Evidence of Coverage” (EOC) and “Annual Notice of Change” (ANOC) and if their plans are changing, they should make sure their plans will still meet their needs for 2016.

This can be a daunting task; especially to those who are new to Medicare or who have ben recently diagnosed with an illness and need to make decisions about future treatment and costs. A slight change in a drug coverage plan can potentially cost thousands of dollars to the Medicare recipient. Spectrum Generations’ Aging and Disability Resource Counselors and its volunteers are trained in State Health Insurance Program protocols and are ready to assist older adults with choosing a new or remaining with their current Medicare coverage. Counselors can be reached during normal working hours at 800-639-1553 to schedule an appointment.

Once a person has Medicare coverage, another critical ally is the Beneficiary and Family Centered Care Quality Improvement Organization. The BFCC-QIO for Maine is a company called Livanta (bfccqioarea1.com). It handles all Medicare beneficiary complaints, quality care reviews, medically necessary reviews and discharge appeals from hospitals, skilled nursing facilities, home health and hospice providers, and rehabilitation facilities.

Medicare beneficiaries have certain rights and protections. Beneficiaries, their family members, or advocates can request a review of certain decisions about a Medicare beneficiary’s care and cost of treatment. The first step to file an appeal or initiate a complaint is to contact Livanta’s BFCC-QIO day or night, including weekends, at 866-815-5440. Even if a voice message must be left, Livanta will return the call in 12 to 24 hours.

Peace of mind about Medicare coverage is a critical aspect of staying healthy and living an enjoyable life. Spectrum Generations stands ready to help through the Medicare Open Enrollment Period and throughout the year.