Make the Most of Medicare’s Annual Open Enrollment Period

When you signed up for Medicare, you probably breathed a sigh of relief, thankful that all your health insurance decisions were now settled. But wait. Not so fast. Didn’t anyone tell you about Medicare Open Enrollment?

Never heard about Medicare’s Open Enrollment period?  If you are over age 65, you are about to. You will soon find your mailbox jammed with official looking envelopes from insurance companies competing for your attention. While it might be confusing, it can be good news for you.

Many people find their initial enrollment in Medicare to be overwhelming. They often make mistakes. They may pick an Advantage Plan that does not cover the doctors or hospitals they prefer. Maybe there was a change in their health or they chose a prescription plan that doesn’t cover their medications. For whatever reason, they feel they are locked into insurance coverage that simply does not fit their needs.

Medicare’s open enrollment is a chance for a do-over. It is an annual opportunity to take a close look at all the other Medicare health insurance options. It’s your chance to make changes that benefit YOU.

Medicare’s open enrollment period begins every year on October 15 and closes on December 7. During this period, people who have previously signed up for Medicare can:

-       Change from Original Medicare to a Medicare Advantage plan.

-       Change from a Medicare Advantage plan back to Original Medicare

-       Switch from one Medicare Advantage plan to a different Medicare Advantage plan

-       Join a Medicare prescription drug plan

-       Switch from one Medicare prescription drug plan to a different Medicare prescription drug plan

-       Drop your Medicare prescription drug coverage completely.

Any changes made during this open enrollment will take effect on January 1 of the following year.

Where to begin

Those covered by a Medicare Advantage plan or Prescription Drug plan will receive an Annual Notice of Change from their insurer outlining changes to their plan for the following year.

Insurance companies are permitted to make changes each year in their Medicare Advantage plans and Prescription Drug plans. These may include the cost, coverage, and which providers and pharmacies are included in their networks. Some plans may also be discontinued and it will be up to you to find a different plan or go back to Original Medicare. All this information will be contained in the Annual Notice of Change or ANOC Notice which will arrive before October 1.

It may seem like a lot of reading to wade through, but it is extremely important for you to go over these materials to make sure your plan will continue to meet your needs for the next year.

Important areas to focus on are:

Changes in benefits and cost: Do the changes affect the services you use? Has the amount of your co-pay changed? Have the premiums or out-of-pocket costs changed? 

Part D Prescription Drug Plan:  Are your prescription medications covered? Are they in a different tier? Can you continue to use the same pharmacies? Have the premium, deductible or tier costs changed?

Providers Network: Are your doctors, hospitals and other health care providers still in the network?

Please go over this information in detail. Don’t make a costly mistake and find out too late that your plan has made major changes that you will have to live with for the next year.

If you are satisfied that your current plan will meet your needs for next year, you can relax. You don’t need to do anything. Your coverage will automatically renew. 

While you can purchase insurance online or through a company’s 800 number, an independent agent or broker provides a level of personalized service you won’t get when you do all the legwork yourself. They will take into account your budget, your overall health care needs, the doctors you prefer and the prescriptions you’re taking in order to find the plan that’s best for you. They’ll consider whether you need coverage when you travel, whether you are interested in a fitness club membership and whether you want vision and dental coverage.

You will not pay any more for your insurance if you purchase the same plan through an independent insurance agent or broker rather than going through an 800 number or ordering online. Your premiums will be the same, no matter what.

For information on Medicare Advantage Plans, Prescription Drug Plans or other group or individual health insurance, please call Mutsko Insurance Services, LLC to set up a health insurance review. We are conveniently located in Mentor at 6982 Spinach Drive. Call at 440-255-5700 or email today.

Laura Mutsko

Laura Mutsko is a licensed insurance agent offering a complete line of health and life insurance products, including Individual, Group and Family Health, Medicare Advantage Plans, Medicare Supplement Plans, Medicare Part D Prescription Coverage, Vision, Dental and Life Insurance. Mutsko Insurance Services, LLC is located at 6982 Spinach Drive in Mentor, Ohio.

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Volume 8, Issue 9, Posted 4:31 PM, 09.14.2017