Open enrollment for Medicare is a very important time for adults age 65 and older. This period between October and December is the time when seniors can enroll or make changes to insurance policies through Medicare.
It is imperative that Medicare subscribers use this time wisely, because failing to take action during open enrollment can result in inadequate coverage and even penalties. Here are some reasons why you should not miss the Medicare open enrollment period.
This Is the Only Time Changes Can Be Made to Policies
The main reason seniors should not miss open enrollment is to avoid being stuck with a Medicare plan that may not be comprehensive enough. If you miss open enrollment, you will not have the opportunity to make changes to your insurance plan for a full year.
The open enrollment period runs from October 15 to December 7. During this period, subscribers should take the time to review their current insurance policy, research options and plans to determine if there are cost-saving benefits to changing plans, and decide if higher or lower levels of coverage will be needed for the upcoming year.
Changes that can be made during open enrollment include: changes to Part D (prescription drug coverage), changes to Part C, Medigap, and supplemental plans. You can also enroll in a new supplemental plan during this time. Once the enrollment period ends, no changes can be made to your health insurance policy without a qualifying event. See Hop Medicare Plans.
Medicare Policies Change Each Year
Not only are you able to make changes to your health insurance coverage, but Medicare changes occur from year to year as well. Therefore, it is important to review your coverage whether you plan on making changes or not. This is because your current policy may have been adequate for this year, but changes made by Medicare could affect your coverage and result in a need for an additional supplemental plan. Medicare Advantage plans are going to be changing for the upcoming calendar year, and enrollees should be aware of those changes before the enrollment period ends.
Per PBS reporting, Medicare Advantage plans will be expanding their coverage in the upcoming years. These plans will now cover some non-medical expenses and there may be new plans offered. Certain plans will now cover transportation to doctor’s appointments, safety equipment, and even certain dietary needs. However, not all Advantage plan providers will be enacting these changes.
Medicare Advantage subscribers will need to pay close attention to whether or not these changes affect their current plan. Subscribers may benefit from changing to a different Medicare Advantage plan or provider during the open enrollment period. In order to determine if your policy will be affected by these changes, you should check with your provider. Insurance companies are also required to notify subscribers of any changes, so keep an eye out for policy information sent by your provider. See Hop Medicare Plans.
Medicare Advantage Plans Are Not Available Outside of Open Enrollment
Medicare Advantage plans are offered to supplement Medicare insurance policies. These plans cover expenses for things like vision and dental, along with certain copays, and assistance with prescription drug costs. These plans are very important for some Medicare subscribers, so it is wise for subscribers to enroll in one, as needed, during the open enrollment period.
If you feel that you need more comprehensive health care coverage, want to limit out-of-pocket medical costs, or generally want more benefits than your current plan offers, then a Medicare Advantage plan may be right for you. It can be helpful to research and review the different Advantage plans to see which one will meet your particular needs.
If the open enrollment period is missed, the only way to sign up for one of these plans is if a qualifying event occurs. Qualifying events include moving, losing employer health insurance, and other major life events.
Use Open Enrollment Period as an Opportunity to Compare Plans
Open enrollment is the perfect time for subscribers to really take a moment to determine if they are currently receiving the health care coverage that suits their needs. This period of time is the only opportunity that you will have to research plans, do cost comparisons, and coverage comparisons.
Here are some tips to help you use the open enrollment period to its full advantage:
Review your current Medicare Advantage plan, or, if you do not have one, determine if you will be needing one during the upcoming year.
Use the Medicare.gov finder tool to compare plan coverage and costs.
Search private insurance companies and other sources for Part D or Advantage plans to determine if it is more cost effective to purchase through another company.
During this open enrollment period, take the time to research and compare Medicare Advantage plans to determine if your current plan continues to be appropriate. You may find that your plan no longer meets your needs or provides more than what you’re using. In that case, take advantage of open enrollment and change your existing plan or choose a new plan that could save you some money or increase the benefits you’re receiving. Make sure that if you fall into these categories, you act before the open enrollment period ends and it is too late. See Hop Medicare Plans.