Medicare Open Enrollment Period (sometimes referred to as “annual enrollment” or “fall enrollment”) is October 15 – December 7 each year.  While reviewing your Medicare coverage each year may not be something you want to do or thinking you need to do, but if you review your current needs, do your research, compare available healthcare and prescription drug coverage plans each year, you can save yourself money and tailor your healthcare coverage to meet your specific needs. Your choices during the Open Enrollment Period are to:

  • Switch to original Medicare (Part A hospital coverage and Part B outpatient coverage) from a Medicare Advantage Plan (Part C);
  • Switch to a Medicare Advantage Plan from original Medicare;
  • Move from one Medicare Advantage Plan to another;
  • Move from one stand-alone prescription drug plan (Part D) to another;
  • Purchase a stand-alone prescription drug plan if you did not when first eligible (although there may be a penalty for late enrollment in the prescription drug plan);
  • Take no action and remain enrolled in your current healthcare plan, assuming it remains available. However, passing on the current opportunity to make changes to your healthcare coverage could cost you in the long run.

Any changes you make now during the 2018 Open Enrollment Period to your healthcare coverage will take effect January 1, 2019.  Before this Open Enrollment Period ends, keep the following in mind while you are deciding on your healthcare coverage:

  1. Review what your current Medicare and prescription drug plan coverage includes and what the costs are.
  2. Evaluate if you have had any changes over the last year and if you are satisfied with your Medicare and prescription drug plan coverage.
  3. Research the benefits and costs of your current coverage for the upcoming year. There may be changes that benefit you or additional coverage that you don’t need or don’t want to pay for. If you have a Medicare Advantage Plan or a stand-alone prescription drug plan, you should receive an Annual Notice of Change and/or Evidence of Coverage from your plan. These notices will provide you with any changes in your plan’s costs, benefits, and/or rules for the upcoming year.
  4. Compare other plans for possible changes. Call 1-800-MEDICARE, review Medicare Plan Finder online at gov and/or review next year’s Medicare & You handbook to know your Medicare costs and benefits for the upcoming year. If researching and comparing plans becomes overwhelming, or you prefer professional assistance, you may wish to seek information from an independent Medicare planning specialist to assist you in navigating through your options to arrive at the best healthcare and prescription drug coverage plans to fit your needs.
  5. After completing your researching, call and speak with plan providers to confirm your understanding of the selected plan. Confirm your doctors and hospitals are in network, and that all prescriptions that you need and the pharmacies that are near to you, are in network of the plan you have selected. ALWAYS take notes (date and time of call, representative’s name that you spoke to, details of conversations, any needed action steps), so that you have a record to reference if there is a problem with your enrollment.
  6. Make needed changes, if any.

Beginning new in 2019, between January 1 – March 31 each year, there will be a Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment Period.  If you have a Medicare Advantage Plan, you can switch to another Medicare Advantage Plan and/or dis-enroll from the Medicare Advantage Plan and return to Original Medicare and a stand-alone prescription drug plan. However, during this period, you cannot switch from Original Medicare to a Medicare Advantage Plan or switch from one stand-alone prescription drug plan to another.

Understanding your Medicare options is key to getting the best value and the right fit for your healthcare needs.  Let us know if you have any questions and we will be happy to assist.