It’s the time of year for making decisions about Medicare coverage, and a lot of information is available on the subject. Here are a few basics, with links to more in-depth information.
What is Medicare Open Enrollment?
Medicare Open Enrollment period is an annual period of time (in 2017, it’s Sunday, October 15 through Thursday, December 7) when current Medicare users can choose to re-evaluate their Part C and Part D Medicare coverage.
Review Your Current Medicare Health and Drug Coverage
Prior to enrollment, you should carefully review the Medicare health or prescription drug plans that are sent to you.
Medicare plan benefits change each year. The changes may alter your premiums, deductibles, drug costs and who your provider is. Check your provider directory to make sure the pharmacy you use is still in your network and that your medications are still covered.
According to the National Council on Aging (NCOA), you should ask yourself the following questions:
- Has your overall health changed?
- Did you struggle to afford your care?
- Should you pick a Medicare Advantage plan? (see below)
- Do you need a Part D drug plan? (see below)
- Do you need to learn more about enrollment rules?
“If you are confused about your current healthcare plan, Open Enrollment is the perfect time to educate yourself so that you are in the best plan for you in the coming year,” says Stacy Haberstroh, a licensed insurance broker with Senior Insurance Concepts.
Shop for Plans that Meet Your Needs and Fit Your Budget
With all of the different Medicare plans, it may be confusing to determine what is covered and what isn’t. Senior Insurance Concepts offers the guide below to ensure that you are knowledgeable on coverage options.
Part A covers hospital services. Part B covers doctor’s office visits and emergency care. Part A and B are covered under what is called Original Medicare.
Part C is a type of Medicare Health Plan called a Medicare Advantage Plan. These plans are offered by private insurers to provide you with all of your Part A and B benefits plus some additional coverage. Medicare Advantage benefits could cover prescription drugs and additional benefits, such as dental, vision and hearing.
Part D is a plan offered by private insurers that adds prescription drug coverage to your Medicare.
During Open Enrollment, you have several options to join, switch, or drop plans. Keep in mind that plans offered by private insurers will vary. You will need to make your final selections by December 7.
If you don’t know what your current Medicare coverage is, check your red, white and blue Medicare card. If you are still not sure about your coverage, you should meet with a licensed insurance broker to complete a Yearly Medicare Review. This gives you an opportunity to review your current coverage and determine if it will meet your needs for the next year.
You can evaluate Medicare Part D and Medicare Advantage plans using a ratings system on the NCOA website.
Consult the Experts
The flexibility of the various Medicare plans is good because they provide options to meet your needs, but sorting through the options can be confusing. There are many sources that can help. Here are a few:
- The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has information that can help you with Medicare Open Enrollment.
- The 2018 “Medicare & You” Handbook can be a valuable resource for learning about Medicare coverage options.
- The NCOA provides a wealth of information and links to other websites.
- You can contact your State Health Assistance Program (SHIP), which provides federally funded Medicare counseling.
- You can evaluate Medicare Part D and Medicare Advantage plans using a ratings system on the NCOA website.
Licensed Insurance Brokers can help you as well. They are certified and have completed hours of training according to CMS regulations. You can ask for copies of their license and accreditations.
“There is not a one-size-fits-all Medicare plan,” says Haberstroh. “What works for your neighbor may not work for you. It is best to consult an insurance broker for find the right plan for your health care.”
To learn more about Medicare Open Enrollment and the options available to you, contact Stacy Haberstroh, an expert in Medicare. Call 314-517-4073, or visit the Senior Insurance Concepts website.
Join Bethesda Health Group to learn how to Plan As You Age at our upcoming seminar on November 13th and 14th.