If you’ve been watching the evening news or reading the paper regularly, you know that issues surrounding healthcare continue to make headlines. You’ve probably also heard that the Open Enrollment season, for most types of health insurance, is approaching soon.
Here’s the problem with all of that news: It can be confusing for Medicare beneficiaries, for whom the Annual Election Period runs on a different schedule. It’s great to keep up with current events, but keep in mind that the Medicare Annual Election period has already begun. So if you’re on Medicare, disregard those other “Open Enrollment” dates you keep hearing about. Here’s what you need to know.
The Annual Election Period for Medicare began on October 15 and will continue until December 7. Yes, that means you need to decide if you want to stay with your current Medicare plan, or enroll in a different one. Many beneficiaries choose to do this, if they discover that a different plan is a better fit for their needs.
Medicare doesn’t cover 100 percent of your costs. When you visit the doctor, for example, you will probably owe a co-pay. Prescription drugs are another matter; some are covered, and some are not. Another thing to remember is that Medicare’s coverage of extended stays in nursing facilities is very limited.
You don’t have to stick to your old plan. If you’ve already filed for Social Security, then you would have been enrolled in Medicare Parts A and B automatically when you turned 65. If you don’t need Part B, because you’re covered by an employer or your spouse’s health insurance plan, you had (or will have) the option to opt out when you are first enrolled. You can also add Part D prescription coverage.
But, if you’re enrolled in Parts A and B already, that doesn’t mean you have to stick with those plans forever. Medicare Advantage plans (also called Part C) roll both types of coverage into one plan. Some even include Part D. These plans are offered through private insurance companies who contract with Medicare, and each plan varies in its offerings as well as charges.
You can get help. Remember, Medicare’s Annual Election Period is open now, and will close on December 7. If you’re considering a switch from one type of Medicare plan to another, call us and we will help you identify your needs and match up with a plan that suits you.