Open Enrollment for Medicare Advantage and Medicare prescription drug coverage (commonly known as Part C and Part D) begins October 15th and ends December 7th. During that time, Medicare participants can:
- Switch from original Medicare to a Medicare Advantage Plan
- Change back from a Medicare Advantage Plan to original Medicare
- Make a switch between Medicare Advantage plans
- Join a Medicare prescription drug plan
- Switch or drop Medicare prescription drug plans
Everyone in the Medicare participant should give their plans a thorough review, and make any necessary changes. The cost savings can be in the thousands of dollars! Here’s why:
Every year, private insurance companies that sell Medicare plans change their offerings, as was recently reported in the New York Times article,
Beware of Shifting Options Within Medicare Plans. Insurers change premiums, deductibles, items/services covered, and prescription drug costs. One year your heart medication might be listed as an inexpensive “Tier 1” drug on your plan’s prescription list (called a formulary), and the next year it might become classified as a more expensive drug. Monthly premiums for both Parts C and D change, and so do their co-pays and benefits. It pays huge dividends to carefully review the plans available to you and decide what fits your specific needs. What plan includes all of your drugs for the lowest price? What prescription drug plan includes your favorite pharmacy? What Advantage plan provides the best coverage for your needs for the best price? No two plans are alike, and it pays in the long run to assess plans during open enrollment.
If you need help wading through your Medicare benefit options, it’s best to find a knowledgeable friend who is well versed in Medicare or hire a Medicare expert advocate who is 100% unbiased to assist you. Those who work for your healthcare providers (case workers at hospitals, nursing home, extending living centers, etc.), sell insurance as brokers or work directly for the insurance company many not be able to give you unbiased advisement because they (or the companies they represent) may be compensated based on the choices you make. Even those with the most honorable of intentions, such as representatives at your current insurer, are typically unaware of plans offered by competitors that would better suit your specific needs. The right choices now can save you thousands in the long run, so it pays to seek out the right assistance and make time to research your options every Open Enrollment period.
If you are enrolled in Medicare (or have a loved one in the program), take the time to make sure your health insurance house is in order. And when you’ve finished the research and have chosen the right plan for you, here are a few ways you can celebrate:
Take a Selfie, holding all of the cash you would have overspent with your old plan(s)!
Organize a Flash Mob! (Nothing says footloose and fancy free like dancing and singing in synchronicity with 100 of your closest friends!)
Invest in a food truck!
Join a Fantasy Sports League!
Learn to Dance the Lambada!
The relief of knowing you did all that you could to find the best coverage for you at a fair price will make you want to kick up your heels and have some fun. You deserve it! You put fear and frustration aside and went the Medicare distance. Congratulations!
Throughout the year, it pays to stay on your healthcare toes. Stay vigilant, and be well!