Getting Ready for Medicare Open Enrollment
Be prepared and worry-free when Open Enrollment rolls around.
Every year as Medicare’s Open Enrollment Period approaches on October 15, there are a few steps you can take to ensure that you have the right health coverage for the upcoming year.
Even if you’re happy with your current plan, devoting some time to these steps can ensure you’re getting the best available plan at the best available cost.
Both Medicare health plans and drug plans can change from year to year. Factors like what a plan costs and what it covers can be altered each year, as well as what providers and pharmacies are in its network.
The Medicare Open Enrollment Period is your chance to review your current coverage and make changes for the upcoming year. Here are 3 helpful steps you can take to get ready for Medicare Open Enrollment.
1. Monitor Your Mail Notifications
In the months leading up to the Medicare Open Enrollment Period, you may receive important notices from your current health or drug plan, Medicare, or Social Security that detail upcoming changes.
If you currently have Original Medicare coverage, review the upcoming year’s Medicare & You handbook for costs and benefit coverage.
If you currently have a Medicare Advantage Plan or Part D plan, look for your Annual Notice of Change and Evidence of Coverage notifications from your plan, which detail any upcoming changes to costs, benefits, and rules.
2. Review Your Current Coverage
Not only do health and drug plans change from year to year, but your own healthcare needs can evolve, as well.
As you review your plan’s materials for changes in cost, coverage, etc. consider if there are any additional needs you have for the upcoming year and determine if your current plan will meet them.
3. Compare New Plan Options
New plan options become available every year. So, even if you’re happy with your current coverage, it’s possible to find Medicare options in your area that better suit your needs at a more affordable cost.
Using an online plan compare tool will allow you to easily view coverage options and compare them across benefits, costs, network, and more.
Additionally, you can personalize your search by entering your own prescription drug and doctor information. When you find a plan you’re happy with you can easily enroll online, as well.
How Do I Know If I Should Change Medicare Plans?
It’s important that you always keep an eye out for any materials or notices that your health or drug plan sends. In particular, watch for the Evidence of Coverage (EOC) and Annual Notice of Change (ANOC) sent by your plan each fall.
The Evidence of Coverage will detail the benefits your plan covers, how much it costs, and more. The Annual Notice of Change will note any changes in coverage, cost, or service area that will go into effect starting January 1st.
Both should arrive in September. If you don’t receive these notices, be sure to contact your plan provider.
If you have reviewed these notices and are confident that all of your needs will be adequately covered in the upcoming year, you don’t need to do anything.
However, even if you feel your current plan has you covered, you may still discover a better option as you compare new plan offerings. In that case, changing plans could help you save on costs, improve your benefit coverage, and more.
Important to Know: Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment Period
Keep in mind that if you end up dissatisfied with the Medicare Advantage plan that you choose during the Open Enrollment Period, you have the option of changing your plan during the Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment Period.
This period runs each year from January 1 to March 31.
If you do decide to change to a different Medicare Advantage plan, your new plan coverage will begin on the 1st of the month following the month in which you enroll.
For example, if you enroll in a new Medicare Advantage plan in February, that coverage will begin on March 1.
Also, note that apart from the option to switch to a new Medicare Advantage plan, you also have the option to switch back to Original Medicare coverage (with the option of adding a Part D drug plan).
Why Should I Prepare for Medicare Open Enrollment?
Taking the time to prepare for Medicare Open Enrollment each year can pay off for you in a number of ways. Consider how insurance companies can make changes to their plans that affect costs such as the monthly premium, deductible amount, and drug costs.
Keeping apprised of these changes can help you save money. For example, it’s been reported that the average consumer can save hundreds of dollars on an annual basis by reviewing their Part D coverage and shopping for the best available plan in their area.
If you find that there’s a different plan option in your area that covers all of your prescriptions at lower prices, has fewer restrictions, and is a higher-rated plan, of course, you’re going to want to go with that option.
Not only can it be a significant cost-saver but also provide you with a greater peace of mind.
Remember! If your plan is still being offered in the upcoming year and you’re satisfied with your current coverage, there isn’t anything you have to do during the Medicare Open Enrollment Period. And if you do decide to enroll in a new plan, that coverage will start on January 1.
Do I Need to Act if I'm Happy With My Plan?
Each year as the Open Enrollment Period for Medicare approaches, it’s good practice to take some time to review your current coverage and consider whether or not a change is in order.
Some Medicare beneficiaries find that they are perfectly happy with their current health coverage and would simply like to keep everything the same.
So, if you like your current Medicare plan, do you need to do anything during the Open Enrollment Period? The short answer: No, you don’t need to do anything.
However, regardless of how content you are with your current plan, there are a few factors you will want to review each year when Open Enrollment rolls around.