Medicare’s open enrollment is from October 15 to December 7 of every year. The open enrollment pertains to Medicare Advantage and Part D plans. During this time, Medicare beneficiaries have the opportunity to reevaluate their coverage and, if necessary, change their Medicare plan. The plan change will be effective on January 1, the next year.
Annually, Medicare Advantage and Part D plans can be changed or even canceled and removed from the market. Plans may change their benefits, copays can go up or down, and prescriptions can be added or dropped from formularies. These changes can affect your yearly healthcare costs, so you should review your coverage every year to make sure you’re in the right place. Here are three things that you should do during the Medicare open enrollment period to ensure that you have the right coverage.
- Review Your Annual Notice Of Change (ANOC). Medicare plans are required to send it’s members an Annual Notice Of Change every year so that they can be aware of the changes. Review the changes carefully and call customer service or your insurance agent if you have any questions.
- Reconsider your usage. Maybe you’re going through a time in your life when you need to go to the doctor’s office more often. Perhaps your health has improved since last year, so you are going to your doctor’s office less. Maybe you need more prescriptions this year than you needed last year. What if there is a plan in your area that has significantly lower copays for the same prescriptions you take right now? The point is that as your health changes, your healthcare needs may change, and the plan you have right now may not be serving you well anymore. It’s a good idea to consider your usage to make sure that you have everything you need.
- Has your income changed? If your income decreased in the last year because of a layoff, or retirement, you might qualify for help with your healthcare costs. You might be eligible for Medicaid, the Medicare Savings Program, Extra Help (LIS), EPIC (State Pharmacy Assistance Program). These programs can provide you with a lot of financial relief.
If you’re on Medicare and you have a Medicare Advantage plan or a Medicare Part D plan, you should review your situation every year. And between October 15-December 7 is the best time to do it. During the open enrollment period, you will receive a lot of advertisements from almost every company that offers Medicare plans in your area. My advice is to consider speaking to a broker that has access to several plans in your area. Direct agents aren’t even allowed to discuss competitor plans with prospective members; they can only discuss the plans offered by their company. A broker has the authority to review any policy they think will fit your needs. Brokers eliminate the need for having to set multiple appointments with competing companies because they can have a comprehensive conversation about several companies. Thanks for reading and good luck during this year’s open enrollment period.