Three Tips for Medicare Open Enrollment
Fall is a great time of year – in addition to having some of the best holidays, we’ve also got football, the World Series, some cooler weather, AND Medicare open enrollment, also known as the “Annual Election Period.” It’s been going on since October 15th, and it will end on December 7th, which means you’ve got some time (but not a lot of time) to get some things done. Here are a few key points you need to know:
First, this open enrollment period impacts Medicare participants who have “original or traditional Medicare” including Part A and Part B, and Medicare Advantage. It’s the one time of year where you can switch Medicare Advantage and Part D plans without going through any medical underwriting. If you don’t like your current plan because of the cost or the coverage or anything else, you can use this time window to change it and they have to accept you. On the other hand, if you like the plan you’re on, you don’t have to do anything – they’ll automatically re-enroll you for another year if your plan is still available.
Second, this Medicare open enrollment period is different than the Initial Enrollment Period. As I said a moment ago, this is the time for SWITCHING plans. The Initial Enrollment Period is when you’re supposed to first sign up for Medicare and Supplemental coverage. Unless you postpone Medicare Part B, the initial enrollment time is normally three months before and three months after the month you turn age 65.
Third, even if you ARE satisfied with your current Medicare Advantage or Part D plan, there might be another plan in your area that offers better health or drug coverage at a more affordable price. It’s worth checking around to find out. And even though the average monthly premium for Part D is increasing only a little bit – from $32 this year to $34 next year – you could still end up paying a lot more in out-of-pocket costs if your plan increases your co-payments.
Obviously, there are a lot of moving parts to all of this, and you want to make sure you’re protected if there are problems with enrollment. If you want to enroll in a new plan, the best way to do it is to call Medicare directly at 1-800-MEDICARE. When you talk with them, it’s a good idea to write down everything you discussed, the date of the conversation, and the name of the person you dealt with. And before you enroll, be sure to confirm ALL of the details about your new plan.
As always, if you need any additional guidance or assistance regarding Medicare open enrollment, just give us a call. We’re here to help.
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