The month of November is here. This means for Alabama seniors, and those who are Medicare beneficiaries, it is time for the annual Medicare Open Enrollment period.

This is the time of year when you may update, change, or find new coverage for yourself as a Medicare beneficiary.

This annual time occurs from October 15th through December 7th. It is critical for seniors and their loved ones to pay attention during this time as there are limited opportunities to change Medicare coverage outside this window of time .

Despite all the information surrounding the Medicare Open Enrollment period, many seniors and their loved ones are still surprised to learn what Medicare does not cover. During this time of year, every Medicare beneficiary needs to learn the ins and outs of his or her existing plan and verify if there are changes to coverage, providers, medications, co-pays, and other plan facets that could impact their health care circumstances.

Medicare has created a number of resources to help you during this time that you may access by clicking this link to the Medicare website.

What may be most important to know, however, is that in almost all circumstances Medicare will not pay for the cost of long-term care. The reason why is because Medicare is designed to be an acute payor system. Long-term care, and the associated costs, do not fit within this model. This means that for many seniors, who are counting on Medicare to help defray the cost of long-term care in the future, are not prepared for what the future holds.

How will you pay for long-term care should you need it in the future? Let us share some of the options available for you to pay for long-term care should you need it.

  1. Self financing and potential impoverishment. Long-term care inside or outside the home can cost thousands of dollars each month. Most families do not have it in their monthly budget or in their savings to be able to indefinitely afford this type of care. Yet, that is the situation many Alabama seniors are facing without advance planning. This is just one of the reasons why you need to meet with an elder law attorney as soon as possible so he or she can help you navigate this challenge.
  1. VA Pension. This is one of the benefits from the Department of Veterans Affairs that has nothing to do with disability or injury. Instead of being based on a compensation system, this is a monthly, tax-free benefit available to all veterans and their dependents should they meet a service record, health, income, and asset test. It may be used to help pay for the cost of long-term care. The qualification process was changed in October of last year and this is something you may also want to discuss with your elder law attorney.
  1. Medicaid. The Medicaid program exists to help seniors and their loved ones be able to afford the high cost of long-term care, such as care in a skilled nursing facility. To access these services there is, again, a health, income, and asset test associated and you will want to speak with your elder law attorney as soon as possible.

The first place to start is understanding what your existing health care coverage will or will not provide during this annual Medicare Open Enrollment time. Once you select the right plan for you for the next year, do not wait to schedule a meeting with an elder law attorney who can guide you through the complications that arise from the need to pay for long-term care. We encourage you not to wait to find the answers you need.  Schedule a meeting with attorney William Miller at your earliest convenience.