Tools to Use during Medicare Open Enrollment

By Mary Jane Stern

October 1 starts the official Medicare marketing season.  There are numerous choices for health and prescription drug plans and it can become overwhelming.

November 15 – December 31, 2010 is Medicare Open Enrollment.  And Medicare Advantage members, this is your enrollment period too for 2011.

In my local newspaper there was an article about Extend Health who is now offering their services to Medicare beneficiaries through their website or customer service center.  Not a bad tool to use to help you with Medicare Open Enrollment.

Extend Health

Extend Health was at one time used by retirees from large corporations to assess their health care needs, for out of pocket expenses, prescription drugs, etc.

Now they are extending this same service to Medicare beneficiaries.

I went to their site because I wanted to make sure this would be something people could use throughout the country.  I used various zip codes from Boston to Phoenix to San Francisco and different plans and options for the respective zip code were made available.

What was explained in the news article was that Extend Health represents about 100 companies.  What this means is that not all of your options are available through their site.

As an example, in my zip code for the Medigap plans they only had one company and that was Mutual of Omaha.  I was disappointed here because I know AARP and Banker’s Life offer the different Medigap plans in my area.

If we read on further about Extend Health, they do get a commission from the insurance provider if they enroll you. The commission is part of the plan cost, which means you pay no more or no less if you use Extend Health or sign up for the plan on your own.

Q1 Medicare

The other site that is great to use is  They originally started out with a great database on the Medicare Part D plans for your area.  Now they have expanded to include Medicare Advantage plans.  They offer all types of information including premiums.

They have included the rating on the plan using the 5 Star System.  You will also notice a column called MOOPMaximum Out Of Pocket expense.  This is what you can expect to pay yourself during the year before a plan will pay 100 percent.


If you like a particular plan or need more information, remember to check out the Plan’s website.  All this information can be found Medicare’s website

How did we make choices years ago?  Information is at our finger tips today. Do you have any special Medicare Open Enrollment tools?  If so, please share with us.  Thanks.

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