Medicare open enrollment begins this Thursday, October 15, and runs through December 7. It's an important period for many of New Jersey's 1.5 million senior citizens, according to Phillip R. Franz, CEO of UnitedHealthcare Medicare & Retirement in New Jersey. 

Medicare Plan Finder Tool
Medicare Plan Finder Tool (from

"For many, it's their one opportunity all year to make a change to their coverage," said Franz.

Franz suggested Medicare beneficiaries assess their current coverage to see if it's providing them with they need and whether those benefits are changing for 2016. He noted Medicare is not a one-size fits all and pointed out a lot can change in one year, such as health status, budget and with what plans are available where a person lives.

"So it's important that beneficiaries take advantage of this annual opportunity to review their current coverage, assess if it's still meeting their needs, and explore their options to determine if it makes sense to make a change to their coverage," Franz said.

Franz offered additional advice for those living on fixed incomes.

"The things you want to look out for is whether or not there's a monthly premium, and if there is a monthly premium, make sure that that amount fits into your budget for 2016. Other things you want to consider that impact your financial budget are the co-pays associated with the visits to your providers and also deductibles for the services that you receive. Another key element to anyone that's working on a budget, is to ensure whether or not you need or want a prescription drug plan," said Franz.

Also with Medicare Advantage Plans, it's a good idea to make sure your doctor is a participating provider in the Medicare Network, according to Franz.

Medicare providers, such as UnitedHealthcare, take into consideration client's needs when developing new plans. For example, Franz noted that his company offers a House Calls program in Monmouth and Ocean Counties that allows people to have a physical exam and comprehensive review so they know their health status in the comfort of their own home.

For more information on Medicare Open Enrollment, visit

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