The annual open enrollment period occurs every year from October 15 to December 7. It’s the one time of year most seniors can make changes to their existing plan. Even if you are satisfied with your current provider, you’ll still want to review your coverage.
Here are a few tips to help you make a good decision based on your individual situation:
Navigating the Medicare Open Enrollment Process
- Start research early: While it’s likely not the way you’d like to spend your days, this is your only opportunity to make changes to your coverage until next year. Whether it’s exploring available Medicare Advantage plans or reviewing which providers are accepting Medicare, we suggest starting early and working a little bit each day.
- Consider Medigap insurance: Depending on your personal health and financial situation, it might be worth exploring Medigap insurance options. These plans are designed to supplement traditional Medicare and are intended to cover copays, deductibles, and coinsurance expenses.
- Prescription coverage: Medication expenses can quickly add up if you don’t have a good plan and what is covered can change. Some seniors discover a new medication their doctor prescribed isn’t covered at all. That’s why it’s important to review Your Guide to Medicare Prescription Drug Coverage. It is a free download you might find helpful. Another good article to read is 6 Tips for Choosing Medicare Drug Coverage.
Review Your Documents
If you are happy with your current coverage and don’t wish to make any changes, it is still important to review a few details. That includes checking to be sure your preferred hospitals, pharmacies, and physicians will participate in your plan again next year.
The National Council on Aging (NCOA) recommends seniors keep four “C” words in mind to objectively assess how well their current plan is working. These are cost, coverage, convenience, and customer service. To get started, you’ll need to round up receipts for any out-of-pocket health-care expenses for the year, as well as a list of your physicians, pharmacies, hospitals, and outpatient centers.
Most Medicare recipients have likely received or will soon receive 2 important documents. These contain any projected changes to your current health-care plan scheduled for the upcoming year. They are the “Evidence of Coverage” (EOC) and “Annual Notice of Change” (ANOC) documents.
Resources to Help with Medicare Open Enrollment
If you feel a little overwhelmed by all of your options, you aren’t alone. It can be confusing! Fortunately, there are resources to help both online and in-person, depending on your preference. The Medicare Finder Tool, for example, can help you explore plans near your home. It allows people to review health care plans, drug coverage options, and costs. You’ll also be able to examine each plan’s quality score.
Should you prefer to speak to an expert directly, call 1-800-MEDICARE. You’ll be connected with someone who can guide you through the process. Finally, every state has in-person support through the State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP). Find the SHIP program in your state here.