It’s that time of year again, elections are almost upon us and so is the Medicare Open Enrollment Period. If you’re eligible for Medicare, you can enroll or make changes to your coverage from October 15 until December 7. Whatever you do will become effective on January 1, 2019, and here are some things you should know.
Benefits May Change
Be sure to take a good look at your plan. Every year, premiums can go up and your coverage can change. If you’re comfortable with the changes, you don’t need to do anything. If you’re not, you’ll want to act on it quickly.
You likely will have received a letter in the mail back in September called an “Annual Notice of Change.” It’s important to review that letter so you’ll know what changes might occur with regards to your plan.
Medicare Supplement plan benefits (like Part D plans) don’t change, though the rates may increase.
Open Enrollment: What You Can Do
During the open enrollment period, you can switch from Original Medicare to a Medicare Advantage plan if you wish. (Alternatively, if you have Medicare Advantage and would prefer to simply have Original Medicare, you can do that too.) You can also make changes to Medicare Part D coverage or apply for it, though there may be fees involved.
What You Can’t Do
You won’t, however, be able to enroll in Medicare Part B unless you have had a qualifying medical event. You also won’t be able to apply for Advantage Plans that are not available in your region.
Unfortunately, any changes you make will likely require you to answer medical questions as well.
This is Your Only Chance
The Open Enrollment Period is the only time you’ll be able to change your plan. If you are unhappy with changes to your current policy, this is the time to opt for a new plan. That includes prescription drug plans or Medicare Advantage plans. It’s also the only time you can get a stand-alone Part D plan for prescription drug coverage.
You Should Shop Around
Considering the fact that you only have a couple of months to finalize decisions, you should start shopping around asap. Different carriers have different plans and different rates, so you might find a better option than what you have currently.
It also helps to read reviews and see what your plan’s rating is on Medicare Plan Finder. Ratings come from customers, so you can learn a lot just from the number of stars a plan has received.