Medicare Open Enrollment: What Changes Can I Make?
Open enrollment for Medicare happens annually between October 15th and December 7th. During this time, current Medicare enrollees have the opportunity to adjust their coverage for the upcoming year. This option can be useful for those who may have changed any of their medications, underutilized their current Medicare coverage or found they are in need of additional benefits.
Searching For Your Medicare Plan Options
During this coming enrollment period it shouldn’t take a lot of effort to determine what your coverage currently is and what options you have available. The government should send you information regarding your current coverage each year. Even you haven’t made any adjustments to your coverage in the last few years, it’s still important to take time to review your current coverage and identify if there are any areas for improvement.
If you find yourself thinking about switching or changing coverage, there are plenty of tools available online or by phone. Medicare offers a helpful Plan Finder tool online or you can find out about new Advantage plans in your area by calling 1-800-MEDICARE. Additionally, you can check out the State Health Insurance Assistance Program website to find help in the state where you reside.
Who Can Make Changes During The Open Enrollment Period?
The Medicare Open Enrollment Period is only for those people who are already existing Medicare beneficiaries.
If you have not yet signed up for Medicare, the period you are able to do so runs between the 3 months before and the 3 months after you turn 65 years old.1 If you happen to miss the initial enrollment period, you cannot sign up for Medicare during the open enrollment period that begins in October. Instead, you must wait for Medicare’s general enrollment period, which runs from January 1st through March 31st.1
When Are Changes Made During Medicare’s Open Enrollment Effective?
The changes you elect to make during open enrollment do not go into effect until January 1st of the following year.
What Changes Are Allowed During Open Enrollment?
During Medicare’s open enrollment period, you have the opportunity to change your coverage, and you also have the chance to switch between different Medicare plans. Listed below are few coverage options you can choose to adjust, add or drop depending on your particular needs for the new year.
Medigap is a supplemental insurance policy that was designed to help enrollees cover the costs of certain medical expenses that are not covered by Medicare. Your medigap policy could be used to cover expenses such as:
- Medical care when traveling abroad2
Medigap coverage can be adjusted, added or dropped during open enrollment, whether you’ve had coverage in the past or if you’d find it beneficial moving forward.
Medicare Advantage, otherwise known as Part C, is a type of healthcare plan offered by private companies that have been contracted through Medicare. It has been designed to combine Part A (hospital insurance) and Part B (medical insurance). In some instances, it can offer a prescription drug plan and/or other supplementary coverage.
If you have Medicare Advantage and found that it did not fit your needs, you can make the choice to switch back to an original Medicare plan during open enrollment. You are also able to switch to a Medicare Advantage plan if you have an original Medicare plan. Be sure to look around for different options since you will have several choices from various providers when it comes to picking a Medicare Advantage plan.
Medicare Part D
Medicare Part D is the name for Medicare’s prescription drug plan. If you have a Medicare Advantage plan, this information may not apply to you. However, for those who are utilizing an original Medicare plan, it is important to check for changes to your Part D coverage annually. The items covered through your plan can change every year, and your prescription needs might change as well. Be sure to check that your current plan has your prescription needs covered for the next year. If it doesn’t, now is the time to shop for new coverage.
Whether expected or unexpected, medical expenses can add up quickly. This is especially true if your current medical coverage is not tailored to address your specific needs. Use this time to take the important step of analyzing your needs and shopping around to make any changes that could be beneficial to you for the upcoming year.