While politicians debate “Medicare for All,” now is the time we are suggesting that clients who are 65 and older and enrolled in Medicare review their coverage in case improvements can be made. Medicare Open Enrollment Period (OEP) started on Oct. 15 and will last through Dec. 7.
If you already have Medicare, you are not required to do anything. But you should nonetheless review your Medicare health and prescription drug coverage to make sure your needs are being met and/or your out-of-pocket expenses can’t be any lower.
During Open Enrollment, you can change from one Medicare Advantage plan to another and also change drug prescription plans. As in the past, it can be difficult to change from an Advantage plan to Original Medicare because the Medigap provider will most likely require you to go through underwriting. This means they will not automatically accept you. The insurer may review your medical history and refuse to sell you a policy, or sell you one at a higher cost, if you do not meet its underwriting requirements.
Also worth noting: the Medicare website has an updated Plan Finder tool that can help you find the best coverage options. You can find it here: https://www.medicare.gov/
According to Michele Trimble, owner of KMT Insurance Consulting, here is what you need to know to make the most of the Open Enrollment Period:
***Verify your prescriptions with your current carrier for the coming year. You can do this by going to the carrier web site and entering your prescriptions (or your Medicare advisor can do this). There are changes every year, especially with prescriptions.
***Look at your “Summary of Costs of Changes” in your “Annual Notice of Change” letter you get from your carrier regarding your Prescription Drug coverage or Advantage Plan; it will be towards the front of the packet. This is where you will see the specific changes that will be happening to your plan for the coming year. It will help give you an idea of whether you want to look at other carriers this year or not.
***Do not make changes based on what your friend, neighbor or TV told you about their plan without first checking that your prescriptions and physicians are covered. Also, be sure to compare deductibles, co-pays and other out of pocket costs.
***There were several acquisitions and mergers this year with the Medicare Advantage and Medicare Prescription Drug Plans. Overall, this has been positive news, but it also means this is a good year to complete a review of your Prescription Drug plans or Advantage Plans. Talk to your Medicare advisor sooner rather than later. If you do not decide by December 7, your current plan will automatically renew for the coming year.
***Medicare Supplement/Medigap Plans F and C have been in the news all year. These are NOT Advantage plans. They are the standardized Supplement plans that cover varying amounts, depending on the plan you are enrolled in, after Medicare pays first. The plans C and F are the only plans that cover the annual Part B deductible. These plans will no longer be sold to people turning 65 after January 1, 2020. People currently enrolled can keep their plan, however. Also, newly clarified is that anyone who turned 65 before 2020 can still apply for a Plan F or Plan C after 2020, if they qualify.
***Be very wary of mailings that look official. Ask an advisor before sharing any information or making any changes. People have found themselves calling an insurance company to ask a question and end up enrolled in a plan and/or with a Medicare advisor they have never met.