Seniors and other Medicare beneficiaries should be aware that this year— perhaps more than any year in the past—is an important one to pay attention to their Medicare coverage options during the Open Enrollment Period, which ends Dec. 7. And that’s because of the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

The ACA brings with it notable changes to Medicare, from more preventive care benefits to changes in costs, and beneficiaries need to understand both the upside and downside of such changes to best evaluate their options during the Open Enrollment Period.

Adding to the challenge of this year’s Medicare changes is broader confusion around the ACA itself. United Healthcare conducted a survey in 2013 called the Medicare Made Clear Index and found that 76 percent of people ages 60 and older say they have a “fair” or “poor” understanding of the ACA.

Thus, the Open Enrollment Period becomes an even more critical time of year because, for most Medicare beneficiaries, it’s their one annual opportunity to make changes to their Medicare coverage. After all, Medicare is not one-size-fits-all, and a lot can change in a year in terms of health status and budget as well as the plans that are available.

Medicare beneficiaries in the Phoenix area and their caregivers should take advantage of this annual opportunity before the enrollment deadline on Dec. 7 to make sure they have a Medicare plan that will meet their needs for the year ahead. People can shop for and compare plans in their area at


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