Each year, Medicare beneficiaries have the option of making changes to their existing coverage. The government-run program features a number of plans to choose from and as your health needs evolve, you may find that other types of coverage suite you better than what you may already have.
Medicare’s open enrollment runs from October 15 through December 7. During this period, you can change from Original Medicare to a Medicare Advantage Plan or vice versa. Beneficiaries also have the chance to switch from one Medicare Advantage Plan to another or choose one that doesn’t offer drug coverage to a plan that does.
Other options during open enrollment include joining a Medicare Prescription Drug Plan to dropping your coverage completely.
What to know about Medicare and open enrollment
When choosing your Medicare coverage for the upcoming year, you should know more about the individual plans themselves in order to make the best decision for your health needs.
It helps to know that when you have a Medicare Advantage plan, it means you can obtain benefits offered through Parts A and B through a private health insurer. MA plans have additional services that aren’t offered through Original Medicare including dental, vision and prescription drug coverage.
If you’re going with a Medicare Advantage plan, make sure your doctor is still accepting that plan, otherwise, you’ll have to pay more to see them because they’ll be out of network.
Although Medicare open enrollment runs from October 15 through December 15 you have until February 14 to drop your Medicare Advantage plan and return to Original Medicare. Those who choose to go back to Original Medicare during this “disenrollment” time can also purchase Part D coverage.
Oftentimes, people with Medicare Part D also have Medigap to help cover out-of-pocket costs that can accrue.
While evaluating coverage options, be sure to take into consideration all of your costs including monthly premiums, deductibles and copays. This can help you get a better idea of what your costs will be for each plan.
There are limits on out-of-pocket costs which mean that a person will pay no more than $6,700 for health services. This limit includes deductibles, copays and coinsurance for outpatients and hospital-related services. One thing that is not covered under these limits is the cost for medications. Keep in mind when choosing your Medicare plan that some have lower out-of-pocket maximums.
Many preventative services are now free under Medicare due to the Affordable Care Act. This means yearly wellness visits, diabetes and cancer screenings and other tests are done at no cost to the patient.