Dr. Katy Votava


Making the Most of Medicare: A Guide for Baby Boomers 9th edition

Did you ever wish someone could explain Medicare in a straightforward style? Dr. Katy’s book takes the confusion out of making Medicare choices. It is full of tips and crucial information in an easy-to-read workbook format.

Available at https://goodcare.com/ for immediate download of the pdf. We are offering a 20% discount for WGN viewers. Use code WGN20

Annual Medicare Check-up Do’s and Don’ts


  • Get organized in September for the Annual Enrollment Period that starts October 15th and ends December 7th each year.
  • Use the Health Information Organizer Worksheet in Table 5-1 of this guide.
  • Read the new “Plan Benefit Summary” your current Medicare insurance company sends you.
  • See whether your co-payments, co-insurance, deductibles, and other plan features will cost more this next year.
  • Verify that all your medications are covered and verify which “tiers” your drugs are positioned in the next year.
  • Understand what your specific medication co-payments are next year.
  • Ensure your plan covers your doctors, hospitals, and health care providers.
  • Review the Social Security notice you receive each fall that notifies you of your Medicare B premiums and Part B and D Income Related Monthly Adjustment Amounts (IRMAA) for the following year.

Qualifications for a reduction in high-income surcharges and the process to file for it are outlined in that Social Security announcement. If you have had any life-changing events listed on that form, you may be eligible to apply for a lower cost level. Also, be sure to review the Medicare IRMAA life-changing events criteria. With rare exceptions, people have 60 days to file for reconsideration.


  • Don’t assume your prescription drug, other co-payments, and in-network doctors stay the same next year.
  • Don’t buy your Medicare plan based solely on the premium while overlooking the benefits you need and use.
  • Don’t assume a better plan is not available.
  • Don’t assume you have full coverage because you are Medicare-eligible and on COBRA.
  • Don’t wait until the last minute to shop – it’s too important a purchase!

Making the Most of Medicare: A Guide for Baby Boomers

Medicare Annual Open Enrollment Tips

The Medicare Annual Open Enrollment Period is every year from October 15th to December 7th. This is the time of year when anyone on a Medicare plan can shop around and change plans.

  • If you are on Medicare or help someone who is, we encourage you to shop for Medicare Advantage (Medicare C) and Medicare D (for drugs) plans every year to ensure you get the best value for your money.
  • Even if you have a plan already, your plan and all others in the market come out with new pricing and benefits every fall.
  • Remember, the total cost includes the premium and the other out-of-pocket costs, such as co-payments and co-insurance.
  • As the old saying goes, “The devil’s in the details!” Sometimes, cost increases are hidden in the out-of-pocket costs, such as how much a specific drug costs next year.

Your Annual Medicare Check-Up

Just like you check the other aspects of your health every year. It’s important to review your Medicare coverage every year, too! We strongly urge you to have your annual Medicare health insurance check-up this year, especially if you expect the following changes:

  • Prescription medications have changed since last year.
  • Your health situation changed (i.e., major health conditions have been diagnosed).
  • Medicare out-of-pocket costs are getting too high.
  • Premium increases are uncomfortable.
  • Customer service provided by the current plan has been poor.
  • Your Medicare plan was discontinued.
  • Your legal residence has changed.

Making the Most of Medicare: A Guide for Baby Boomers

Free Medicare Resources

  • https://www.medicare.gov/ – is the official US government site for Medicare. Use their toll-free number 800-MEDICARE (800-633- 4227) 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Also, be sure to download the “Medicare & You” handbook in different formats on their website, https://www.medicare.gov/medicare- and- you/medicare-and-you.html
  • https://eldercare.gov/– is a public service of the US Administration on Aging, which connects people to services for older adults and their families. Use the toll-free number 800-677-1116, Monday – Friday, 9:00 AM – 8:00 PM.
  • https://www.shiphelp.org/– the State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP) site directs consumers to free Medicare counseling and assistance. SHIP is a public service of the US Administration for Community Living.
  • https://www.healthcare.gov/– is the site for enrolling in a health insurance plan. Use the toll-free number, 1-800-318-2596, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week except Federal holidays.
  • https://www.ssa.gov/– is the Social Security Administration website. Alternatively, use the toll-free number, 1-800-772-1213, Monday through Friday, 7:00 AM – 7:00 PM.

This excerpt is provided to WGN as a courtesy for an 11/1/23 interview with Dr. Katy Votava. Copyright 2023© by Goodcare Productions, LLC All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without prior written permission from Goodcare Productions, LLC.