Medicare Annual Enrollment begins October 15 and runs through December 7. This is your time to review your current health plan, and maybe even select a new plan. Whether you’re looking to sign up for Medicare Advantage or Prescription Drug coverage, make changes to an existing plan, or dis-enroll completely, this is the time it happens.
Annual Enrollment can be confusing, and many seniors do nothing at all. But, it’s well-known that both the terms and costs of plans change from year-to-year. Even if you’re satisfied with your existing plan, reviewing your coverage annually is smart—not only to stay informed but also, because you may be able to save money and improve your coverage with a new plan.
Remember, you only have a few choices:
If you have Original Medicare, you can choose to buy a Medicare Supplement plan (Medigap).
If you have Original Medicare you can choose to buy a Medicare Advantage plan.
If you have a Medicare Advantage plan, you can pick a new one.
If you have prescription drug coverage, you can change your Part D Prescription plan.
You should receive an Annual Notice of Change in the mail, informing you of any changes being made to your current plan’s coverage and costs for the following year. Take a minute and review this document. Then ask yourself the following four questions to ensure you are well prepared for Open Enrollment.
Was I satisfied with my health coverage last year? Before doing anything else, ask yourself if you were happy with your Medicare health plan last year. If the answer is yes, then review your Annual Notice of Change for changes in terms, coverage, or cost that may affect you this year. If your healthcare needs have changed, your existing plan may not fit your needs anymore, and it may be time to look for different coverage.
Is my doctor still in the network? Often, health plans make changes to networks from year to year. Be informed and prepared by looking to make sure your doctor and hospital are still in your plan’s network for the upcoming year. Did the terms change? For instance, do you need a referral to see a specialist?
Will I be taking any different prescriptions? As your healthcare needs change, so may your prescriptions. If you have prescription drug coverage, either as a standalone plan or through a Medicare Advantage plan, it’s critical that you look for changes in the plan’s formulary. Are the medications you currently take still covered? Can you use the same pharmacy you use to pick up your medicine?
Will my out-of-pocket expenses change? Think about how much money you spent on health care last year. In many cases, if your plan doesn’t meet your needs, picking a new one may save you money. How much will your current plan expect you to pay? Has this amount increased from last year? If so, by how much? Don’t forget to look for changes in deductibles copayments and coinsurance.
Remember, it’s okay to do nothing at all when Annual Enrollment arrives. If you are happy with your current plan, it will roll over—with any current changes intact—and continue for another year.