Medicare 2017: What Seniors Need to Know Now

An interactive group presentation
by Jess Joseph, Patient Advocate


Medicare Open Enrollment: October 7 to December 15, 2015


Every October Medicare plans announce changes in premiums, deductibles, copays and benefits for the coming year. Seniors who want to avoid price increases or get better coverage can change their plan during Medicare’s Open Enrollment Period, October 15–December 7. This is the only time of year when all Medicare beneficiaries can make changes.

Research indicates that the average beneficiary could save $300 per year if they switched plans, but instead they overspend by $388 annually. Most seniors miss out on these savings because the selection process is so confusing and opaque. We show seniors how to simplify the process to select an appropriate plan.


FACT: Seniors get overwhelmed by the number of different prescription drug plans.
• There are 25 different Medicare drug plans to choose from in New York City.
• 40% of seniors get confused by the process of selecting a plan.
• An additional 20% are not willing to make any choice at all.

PROBLEM: Most seniors pay more than necessary for premiums and drugs.
• Seniors pay $368 more than needed, on average, for prescription drugs.
• Over 20% of seniors pay at least $500 a year more than necessary.
• Only 5% of Medicare beneficiaries have the least expensive plan.

SOLUTION: We show seniors a simple way to narrow their choices to select a plan suited to their individual medical needs and financial resources.


FACT: Many seniors do not understand their options under Medicare.
• They are not sure whether they have Original Medicare or one of the 41 Medicare Advantage Plans available in New York City.
• They confuse Medigap (Medicare Supplements) with Medicare Advantage.
• They find Medicare’s online Plan Finder confusing and they do not use the “Medicare and You” handbook.

PROBLEM: Confused by their options, seniors often do not choose an appropriate plan.
• Seniors overvalue small differences in costs and undervalue significant differences in provider networks.
• Seniors rely on advice from insurance agents and plan representatives who are paid by Advantage and Medigap plans.
• Seniors overestimate the cost of Original Medicare’s variable 20% coinsurance.

SOLUTION: By focusing attention on the critical differences between Original Medicare and Advantage Plans, we make it easier for seniors to narrow their choices and select an appropriate plan. We also explain why many seniors overestimate the need for a Medigap plan to supplement Original Medicare.


Schedule a date for Medicare 2017 now to give seniors adequate time to make changes before Open Enrollment ends on December 7. Medicare 2016 is free for nonprofit groups and organizations as a public service of Help for Patients LLC.

Call Jess Joseph at (212) 996-9595 or email