Do you know when Medicare’s open enrollment period occurs? This year, Medicare’s annual open enrollment period begins October 15 and ends December 7. The open enrollment period gives Medicare beneficiaries an opportunity to make alterations to their coverage selections. Such changes can occur as the result of changes in healthcare needs, as well as changes in costs, coverage, and providers in different networks.
To see if you should take advantage of the opportunity to make changes to your Medicare coverage, you should first review the plan you currently have selected. Medicare should have sent you an “annual notice of change” from your Medicare plan back in September. It contains valuable information, such as the changes to your plan scheduled for the upcoming year. It also explains coverage and costs, such as premiums, deductibles, and copays.
Review your medical expenses over the last six months, including a list of the doctors you see regularly and the medications you need. The Medicare Plan Finder on Medicare.gov is an online tool from the government to help you select a plan. After you enter your zip code and details about your medications and whether you receive them by mail, you can compare plans available in your area. You can also try the State Health Insurance Assistance Programs, which offer free local counseling to enrollees.
Medicare has a number of different coverage options that you may not be familiar with. For example, there is Medigap coverage. Medicare beneficiaries without some sort of Medicare Supplement Insurance (Medigap) may face Medicare cost-sharing if they have health problems. A Medigap policy helps fill “gaps” in original Medicare and is sold by private companies. If you are not able to purchase a Medigap policy, a Medicare Medical Savings Account (MSA) might be a good option. MSAs combine high-deductible insurance plans with a medical savings account that you can use to pay for your health care costs.
There are also Medicare Advantage plans. These plans are a type of Medicare health plan offered by a private company that contracts with Medicare to provide all of your Part A and Part B benefits. Most Medicare Advantage plans also offer prescription drug coverage. Before switching to a Medicare Advantage plan, be sure to examine it closely to see if it makes sense. While many have $0 premiums, the out-of-pocket costs can be high, or your hospital or your doctor may not be in-network.
You can find Medicare plan information or compare plans by calling 1-800-MEDICARE or visiting Medicare.gov. Our office is also here to act as a resource to you during open enrollment. We can review your current coverage, as well as, help you explore other coverage options that may be better suited to your needs. Contact our office today to schedule an appointment.