Showing posts with label when can you change Medicare plans. Show all posts
Showing posts with label when can you change Medicare plans. Show all posts

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Annual Medicare Open Enrollment Period

We are fortunate to have another guest post from Medicare expert, Danielle Kunkle, who has provided us with a clear and detailed explanation of the annual Medicare Open Enrollment Period.  This is timely information, because we are currently in the middle of open enrollment.   It is important for seniors to understand they are not limited to the open enrollment period if they are signing up for Medicare for the first time.  You are also not affected if you have a Medicare Supplement (Medigap) plan.  However, if you are unhappy with your current Medicare Advantage or drug plan, the information below will be useful.

Medicare Open Enrollment

The Medicare Open Enrollment period each fall is a time when Medicare beneficiaries can make changes to their Medicare Advantage plans and Part D drug plans.  This annual enrollment period runs from October 15 to December 7.

Beneficiaries will receive an Annual Notice of Change letter from their current insurance company in September.  This letter will outline all the changes to the plan for the following year.   It is common for the plan's monthly premiums or co-pays to change.  Pay close attention, as well, to see if any of your medications are being added or dropped from the plan's formulary.

If you are unhappy with the changes which are being made to your current plan, the fall open enrollment period is the time to look for new coverage.  We recommend you visit to use their Plan Finder Tool.  You will enter your zip code, your medications and your preferred pharmacies.  Then, this handy tool will crunch the numbers and tell you exactly which plans for next year will offer you the lowest possible out-of-pocket spending.

It's important to note that the Open Enrollment Period in the fall only applies to drug plans and Medicare Advantage plans.  It does not affect your Medicare Supplement (Medigap plan).  Unlike drug plans and Advantage plans, your Medigap plan does not change its benefits from year to year.

You can actually change your Medigap plan at any time of year, though in most states it will require you to answer health questions and go through medical underwriting to do so.

The graphic along the sidebar will help you understand the Medicare Open Enrollment period.

About the author:

Danielle Kunkle is the co-founder of Boomer Benefits, an insurance agency specializing in Medicare-related insurance products.  They help baby boomers new to Medicare learn about their benefits and coverage options across 47 states.

If you are interested in learning more about Medicare, Social Security, financial planning, where to retire, common medical issues and more, use the tabs or pull down menu at the top of the page to find links to hundreds of additional articles.

Watch for my book, Retirement Awareness: 10 Steps to a Comfortable Retirement, which is being published by Griffin Publishing in 2018.

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Photo credit:  Google Images

Infographic credit:  Danielle Kunkle

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Dates for Medicare Enrollment Changes

It can be very difficult to stay up-to-date with all the changes to Medicare and the other programs that are meant to make life a little easier for senior citizens.  We have to constantly be on the alert for changes in programs.  In fact, I'm sure I'm not alone in thinking that it is a bit ironic that all these programs that are supposed to make life easier are actually so darn confusing!

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 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.

If you are looking for more information about Medicare, retirement planning, where to retire, financial planning, medical issues and more, use the tabs or pull down menu at the top of this article for links to hundreds of additional helpful articles.

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