Since 2011, the deadline for changing your Medicare coverage has changed. Open enrollment is now from October 15 to December 7. In the past, the enrollment period ran from November 15 to December 31.
If you want to switch your Part D prescription drug plan, or switch from traditional Medicare to one of the Medicare Advantage plans, or even switch from one Medicare Advantage plan to a different one, you need to make those changes during this enrollment period that expires on December 7.
It is important to get the word out on this. Many people may think they have until December 31 to make these important changes. However, if they don't make the changes by December 7, their current plans will stay in place throughout the following year, according to the September 2011 issue of the AARP Bulletin.
Of course, if you watch television at all, you will start seeing the newest Medicare plans for your area advertised regularly beginning every September. In addition, if you are in your 60's or older, you are highly likely to receive advertisements for the different types of Medicare policies in the mail.
If you are still trying to compare different types of coverage before deciding which plan will work best for you, you can check out medicare.gov or call 1-800-633-4227.
At the very least, it is important to understand a few basic facts about Medicare.
Type of Medicare Policies Available
Beneficiaries of Medicare have several choices regarding Medicare:
* If you work and get insurance through your company, you still need to sign up for basic Medicare. This will keep you from paying extra high premiums when you switch to using Medicare.
* Take basic Medicare only, which currently means about $104 a month will be taken from your Social Security or will be billed to you, if you do not take Social Security, yet. Medicare only covers about 80% of your medical expenses, and there are some expenses that it does not cover at all. As a result, most people choose one of the two following choices.
* Take basic Medicare, but add a Medicare supplement plan. Medicare will still charge you the basic $104 a month. You will also pay an additional premium, depending on the Medicare supplement plan you choose.
* Sign up for a Medicare Advantage plan. The $104 a month will be assigned to the private insurance company and they will provide you with medical care which, by law, MUST include everything provided under basic Medicare. In addition, most Medicare Advantage plans will also offer a variety of other benefits, depending on the plan you choose. Some Medicare Advantage plans do not charge any extra premiums. Others have a small additional premium. Some include dental and vision plans and low co-pays. You will need to shop around. If you have a doctor who is in a Medicare Advantage plan, this is often the most affordable and comprehensive Medicare choice.
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