Medicare Open Enrollment: Programmatic and Policy Concerns. October 11, 2018 #MacroSW Chat

by Pat Shelly @UBSSW

Image of "Medicare Health Insurance" over image of a maze.

Transcript of this chat here.

The annual Open Enrollment period for Medicare is from October 15 – December 7.
It is important for all social workers to be aware of the basics of Medicare coverage and current program changes and policy concerns.

We are pleased to have Louanne Bakk, PhD, MSW,   @BakkLouanne  the Director of the DSW Program and Clinical Assistant Professor at the University of Buffalo School of Social Work as the guest expert for this chat. Her past work as Director of Access and Aging Benefits at an agency  in Michigan influenced her current research in healthcare access disparities and older adults.

Learn about the Medicare basics, Open Enrollment, associated costs, policy issues, and how to help beneficiaries pick the best plan.

chart: Gateway Health Plan












chart of part a services costs co-pay

services costs co-pay for part B

Charts: Medicare Part A and Part B from Louanne Bakk / University at Buffalo

Discussion Questions

  1. What are the 4 parts of Medicare? What is “Open Enrollment”?
  2. What are the cost-sharing aspects of Medicare?
  3. What are some policy issues you see with Medicare?
  4. What can social workers do to help improve policy?
  5. How can you help clients make the best choices in choosing a plan?


Resources    The Official U.S. Government Site for Medicare

Six things to know about fall open enrollment  from
Includes link to download the “2018 Guide to Fall Open Enrollment”

Health Policy 2: Medicare: Enrollment  and Rx Drug Plans Basics . course module in three parts, by Dr. Bakk. 36:55 min.
Enrollment >Begin watching at 3:16 minutes to 15:30 min. mark.
Why Evaluate / Re-evaluate Options (during Open Enrollment) >Begins 15:46 min. to 26:18 min. mark.
Resources to help beneficiaries pay for costs >Begins at 26:30 min. to 36:20 min. mark.

National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare. (Draft Medicare Handbook Biased Toward Private Plans.  Medicare Rights Center: Getting Medicare Right Blog. Retrieved from:

Medicare Finder Tool . course module by Dr. Bakk. 40:05 min.

Racial/Ethnic Differences in Cost-Related Nonadherence and Medicare Part D [podcast] Discussion of research by Dr. Bakk, interviewed by Jacqueline McGinley, PhD, LMSW.  22:22 min.


Dr. Bakk facing forward.    Louanne Bakk, PhD, MSW, (Medicare Open Enrollment: Programmatic and Policy Concerns, Oct. 11, 2018) is Director of the DSW Program and a clinical assistant professor at the University at Buffalo School of Social Work. Her pedagogical focus is on research and program evaluation, policy, macro practice and online learning. Dr. Bakk’s research interests are in aging, with an emphasis on policy initiatives designed to assist older adults, disparities in later life, community-based intervention programs and services, and technology and older adults. Her recent research is outlined in the inSocialWork podcast,“Racial/Ethnic Differences in Cost-Related Nonadherence and Medicare Part D” [listen to the podcast]. Dr. Bakk recommends that social workers be mindful of disparities in policies such as Part D (and health coverage generally) regarding cost sharing, complexity of the policy, and the health literacy in the disparate groups among its intended beneficiaries.


Listen to the podcast for this week’s Twitter chat:










Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.