The annual Medicare open enrollment period began on October 15th and will end on December 7th. Most Medicare enrollees consider their Medicare coverage choices a one-time decision. However, it is wise to review your coverage options annually to ensure that you are not overpaying and that you are getting the coverage that you need.
The insurance companies that provide Medicare Advantage plans, and Medicare Prescription Drug (Part D) plans are for-profit entities and they are allowed by law to make changes to their plans annually concerning what is covered and what they charge you. They will communicate these changes via the "Annual Notice of Change" document that you should have received in September. It is in your best interest to make sure that you are still getting the best deal.
During the annual Medicare Open Enrollment you can change from one Medicare Advantage plan to another. You can switch from a traditional Medicare to a Medicare Advantage plan and vise-versa. You can add or change your Medicare Prescription Drug (Part D) plan and so on. However, some of these changes may require new medical underwriting so keep that in mind.
There may be other factors in your life that heighten the need to review your coverage choices. These include items like changes to your regular medications, moving to a new location, needing a specialist that is not available in-network within your current plan, and of course changes to your current policy in the form of higher premiums, deductibles, copays, etc.
Luckily there are some excellent resources out there to help. A great first stop to compare Medicare Advantage plans and Part D plans is the Medicare.com plan comparison tool: www.medicare.gov/plan-compare. Here you'll get personalized information and detailed estimates of what you should expect to pay in the coming year under various plans. You can further personalize the results by entering your Medicare number on the main page. Here is a link to a helpful video on how to use the plan comparison tool.
Another resource to consider is the Massachusetts SHINE Program. SHINE stands for "Serving the Health Information Needs of Everyone." The SHINE program is sponsored by Massachusetts and run by more than 600 statewide certified and trained volunteers who meet with Medicare enrollees and pre-enrollees in-person or by phone. The SHINE Program provides free, unbiased health insurance counseling. You can learn more about the SHINE program here: shinema.org/. You can find your local counselor here: SHINE Directory or by calling 1-800-243-4643, Option 3.
Staying the course is always easier but don’t let inertia get the better of you this open enrollment season. Know your options and take control of your health insurance.
Breakwater Financial, LLC is a registered investment advisor. The content of this blog post is for informational and educational purposes only and is not to be considered investment advice. If you have any questions regarding this Blog Post, please contact us.