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Medicare: Take Advantage of Open Enrollment!

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Are you in the best available Medicare plan for your situation? For many Medicare beneficiaries, the answer is no and that can be a costly mistake.

A recent study by the Kaiser Family Foundation found that 71% of Medicare beneficiaries don’t research their plan options when Open Enrollment comes around.

But Medicare plans can make changes every year. Your current Medicare plan may be changing any of these important items:

  • Deductibles
  • Coinsurance
  • Maximum out-of-pocket costs
  • Premiums
  • Care provider networks
  • Prescription drugs and access.

Prescription drug plans are particularly prone to making changes in their formulary of covered drugs, rules under which the plans provide coverage, and cost structure. The Kaiser Family Foundation found that only a small fraction of Medicare beneficiaries are enrolled in the lowest-cost Part D plan available to them, based on the specific drugs they take.

Meanwhile, your own medical situation may change over time. Even if your plan hasn’t changed, your coverage needs may have. Exploring your options annually during Open Enrollment may help you avoid unnecessary out-of-pocket costs and make it more affordable for you to seek treatment from the doctor or care facility of your choice.

If you’ve enrolled in a Medicare Supplement (Medigap) plan, along with Original Medicare, you don’t need to worry as much about unexpected changes to your plan. But as your personal medical situation changes, it still may be worthwhile to explore your options in Medicare Advantage each year — especially Part D prescription drug plans.

New benefits for chronic conditions

If you have a chronic condition, you may be able to improve coverage by switching to a plan that offers newly authorized services under the Chronic Care Act. These plans may help you with supplemental services, including:

  • Grocery delivery
  • Caregiver support
  • Retro-fitting homes to accommodate disabilities
  • Transportation services.

How to make changes

The annual Open Enrollment period runs from Oct. 15 through Dec. 7. During this period, you can make changes to your Medicare Advantage enrollment.

Specifically, you can switch between Original Medicare and Medicare Advantage, the managed-care alternative to the traditional program. You also can change your prescription drug plan.

All changes will be effective as of Jan. 1.

Research from the Kaiser Family Foundation finds that many enrollees don’t review their choices annually because they find the process daunting.

We can help you identify recent plan changes, compare your different plan options, and enable you to make an informed decision about which Medicare Advantage or Medigap plan may be best for you.

If you decide to make a change to your Medicare coverage, there is no cost for doing so. You simply pay the monthly premiums for your new plan, beginning Jan. 1