Medicare Open Enrollment is rapidly approaching, meaning it’s time once again to review your current coverage or enroll in a plan for 2017. Whether or not you intend to make any changes this year, it’s important to take this time to review your circumstances, take note of any changes made to your plan, and determine whether the coverage you’ve selected is still the best option for you.
The Medicare Open Enrollment period for 2017 coverage is from October 15 through December 7, 2016. It is during this time that you may switch from Original Medicare to a Medicare Advantage plan, or vice versa, switch from one Medicare Advantage Plan to another, enroll in a Medicare Part D (prescription drug) plan, (with or without a Medicare Supplement) or make changes to your current Part D plan. This is also the time to review your Medicare supplemental insurance (Medigap), if applicable.
There can be a lot of confusion surrounding the coverage options for seniors, which is why it’s important to take this time to do your research, and really understand what’s available to you.
What is Medicare?
Medicare itself has four parts. Part A is your hospital insurance, while Part B covers most doctor services, outpatient services and some preventative care, among other things. Part C is Medicare Advantage, which works as an alternative to a standard Medicare plan that may offer additional benefits. To be eligible for a Medicare Advantage plan, of which there are many, you must already be enrolled in Medicare Parts A and B, and live within your selected plan’s service area. Medicare Part D is an add-on specifically for prescription drug coverage, for those who do not select a Medicare Advantage plan.
Although your medical needs may be the same as in years past, the benefits and premiums of your chosen plan may have undergone changes. Because of this, it is important that you review and reassess your coverage options so as to not be caught off guard by unexpected costs after the open enrollment period has ended. While this isn’t the case for all plans, Medicare premiums overall are expected to increase in 2017. Taking the time to verify that your chosen plan is still the best option for you and that you understand any changes to your coverage can prevent a big headache later in the year.
Reviewing Your Plan
If you’ve reviewed all the available plans and still wish to maintain your current coverage, there is no need for you to take any action during open enrollment. If your plan is being discontinued and cannot be renewed, you will receive a notice informing you of this from your carrier prior to the open enrollment period, in which case you can select a new plan to suit your needs.
Information for next year’s plans will be made available to the public in October, at which time you can take a look at the many coverage options and select the plan that is best for you. All changes made will take effect on January 1, 2017.
See our article: Do you know the difference between Medicaid and Medicare?
For more information see this medicare.gov article on medicare enrollment or for Maryland residents get a free guide published by Johns Hopkins.
For more information or for the name of a medicare specialist to review your options, please call Deborah at 410-977-3718