It’s that time of year again — time to reassess whether your Medicare plan is working for you and to jump ship if it isn’t. Medicare’s open enrollment period runs from October 15 to December 7.
During this period- you may enroll in a Medicare Part D (prescription drug) plan or- if you currently have a plan- you may change plans. In addition- individuals can enroll in a Part C Medicare Advantage (managed care) plan- return to traditional Medicare (Parts A and B)- or change Medicare Advantage plans. If you are in a Medicare Advantage or a Part D plan- you should have already received an annual notice informing you of changes for the coming year. Even if you are satisfied with your current Medicare Advantage or Prescription Drug Plan- it is prudent to visit the Medicare website and evaluate plan offerings to ensure you are in the best plan available.
Beneficiaries can go to www.medicare.gov or call 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227) to make changes in their Medicare prescription drug and health plan coverage.
During the open enrollment period- you should review your current plan by looking at the costs and coverage for next year to determine if it is still the right plan for you. It is especially important to review your Medicare Advantage plan if you are in one. Under the Affordable Care Act- Medicare is supposed to cut $156 billion in payments to these plans by 2022. This has stirred fears that Medicare Advantage plans will raise premiums and trim their networks of doctors. You should call your providers to ensure that they still participate in your plan.
You could also be leaving money on the table by not taking a close look at your current drug plan. A Kaiser Family Foundation study last year found that only 13 percent of enrollees are voluntarily switching plans- but that nearly half of the plan switchers saved at least 5 percent by switching.
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. If you think you’ve been a victim of fraud or identity theft- contact Medicare. For further readings, see this resource on Medicare fraud.
In addition- you can now get the same information found in the handbook “Medicare & You” online. Find out what’s new for the year- how Medicare works with your other insurance- and what Medicare costs and what it covers. The handbook information on the Web is updated regularly- so it will always reflect the most up-to-date Medicare information.