This past week, I flipped my calendar from August to September, and I started thinking about pumpkins and sweet potatoes, hot chocolate, leaves changing color – and open enrollment for health insurance! This time of year is vitally important to diverse elders, because both Medicare and the Affordable Care Act have had a profound impact on our ability to age with health and dignity. Read on for more information and key dates around healthcare open enrollment, and make sure you’re ready to #GetCovered!
Medicare Open Enrollment
October 15 – December 7, 2017
Medicare has a huge impact on diverse elders’ ability to get care. Various studies have found that
46% of Latino older adults
43% of Asian American older adults
52% of African American older adults
92% of American Indians and Alaska Natives
As many as 97% of LGBT older adults are covered by the program.
Without Medicare, many diverse elders would be required to pay for health expenses on their own, accrue enormous debts, and likely not receive the health care they need.
Medicare health and drug plans can make changes each year: things like cost, coverage, and what providers and pharmacies are in their networks. October 15 to December 7 is when all people with Medicare can change their Medicare health plans and prescription drug coverage for the following year to better meet their needs.
The National Asian Pacific Center on Aging (NAPCA) has created a “What is Medicare?” brochure that clearly outlines Medicare benefits, eligibility, and how to enroll. Click on any image below to read, print, and/or download:
And for Spanish speakers, Medicare.gov has a helpful list of five key steps you can do to prepare for Medicare Open Enrollment.
If you’re a healthcare provider or a representative of a benefits enrollment center helping older adults access their benefits, check out the National Council on Aging’s Medicare Open Enrollment portal for tools, resources, and more.
ACA Open Enrollment
November 1 – December 15, 2017
Research shows that people of color, American Indians/Alaska Natives, and LGBT people deal with significant disparities in multiple areas related to physical and mental health. An older person’s poor health can represent the cumulative effect of experiencing a lifetime of discrimination. Without insurance, many people delay or forego care, which can exacerbate poor health. The Affordable Care Act (ACA) prevents health insurers from denying coverage or charging higher premiums based on pre-existing conditions or a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity.
Check out our fact sheet about why the ACA (aka Obamacare) is so important to our communities! Available to read, print and download in English, Spanish, Mandarin, Korean and Vietnamese.
Be prepared for open enrollment – the window in which to purchase coverage or make changes to existing coverage is shortened this year (though some states are opting to extend their enrollment deadlines – check your local Marketplace website for details). Here are some key dates for the Health Insurance Marketplace from the Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services, available in a number of languages spoken by our communities:
- Key Dates for Marketplace Open Enrollment – English,
- Key Dates for Marketplace Open Enrollment – Spanish, and
- Key Dates and Other Marketplace Open Enrollment Resources – Other languages including Mandarin, Japanese, Korean, Portuguese, Tagalog, & Vietnamese
If you have additional questions or want to share your story about your Medicare or ACA health coverage, please contact us!
The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of the Diverse Elders Coalition.