Until December 7, Medicare beneficiaries can take advantage of Open Enrollment, a window of opportunity to shop around and determine if their current Medicare plan is still the best one for them.
During this period, beneficiaries may enroll in a Medicare Part D (prescription drug) plan or, if currently enrolled, may change plans. In addition, during the seven-week period, there are options to return to traditional Medicare (Parts A and B) from a Medicare Advantage (Part C, managed care) plan, enroll in a Medicare Advantage plan, or change Advantage plans.
Beneficiaries can go to www.medicare.gov or call 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227) to make changes to their Medicare prescription drug and health plan coverage.
According to the New York Times, few Medicare beneficiaries take advantage of Open Enrollment, but of those who do, nearly half cut their premiums by at least five percent. Even beneficiaries who have been satisfied with their plans in 2021 should review their choices for 2022, as both premiums and plan coverage can fluctuate from year to year. For example:
- Are previous doctors still part of the Medicare Advantage plan’s provider network?
- Have any prescriptions been dropped from the prescription plan’s list of covered drugs (the “formulary”)?
- What are your total out-of-pocket costs?
- Would switching to a different plan with the same coverage save money?
For answers to questions like these, carefully look over the plan’s “Annual Notice of Change” letter that was distributed to Medicare beneficiaries. Prescription drug plans can change their premiums, deductibles, the list of drugs they cover, and their plan rules for covered drugs, exceptions, and appeals. Medicare Advantage plans can change their benefit packages, as well as their provider networks.
Remember that fraud perpetrators will inevitably use the Open Enrollment Period to try to gain access to individuals’ personal financial information. Medicare beneficiaries should never give their personal information out to anyone making unsolicited phone calls selling Medicare-related products or services or showing up on their doorstep uninvited. Victims of fraud or identity theft should contact Medicare immediately.
For additional help navigating the Open Enrollment Period, access the resources included below:
- Medicare Plan Finder, matching plans to individual needs: medicare.gov/find-a-plan
- Medicare coverage options: medicare.gov/medicarecoverageoptions/
- The 2022 Medicare & You handbook, distributed to all Medicare beneficiaries, and can be downloaded online: gov/forms-help-resources/medicare-you-handbook/download-medicare-you-in-different-formats
- The Medicare Rights Center: medicareinteractive.org
- Virginia Insurance Counseling & Assistance Program (VICAP), offering independent counseling: vda.virginia.gov/vicap.htm