Medicare’s annual open enrollment period ends on December 7. This is an important opportunity for Medicare enrollees. Unfortunately, many Medicare beneficiaries don’t take advantage of it, and as a result, they could be stuck in plans that cost too much or that don’t provide important benefits. Don’t let that happen to you. Even if you already have a Medicare plan, it’s a smart idea to consult with an agent.
Plans Change Each Year
Each year, insurance carriers are allowed to update their plans for the coming plan year. As a Medicare enrollee, you should receive a notice about any changes to your Medicare Advantage or Medicare Part D plan in September. This notice is called the Annual Notice of Change, and it can include important information about upcoming changes to your benefits and costs.
Unfortunately, these changes may mean that your plan is no longer a good fit for you. For example, you might learn that your premium is going up, or that the copay for a prescription you need is increasing. This means you’ll be paying a lot more for your medications each month. You could also learn that a benefit you use is disappearing.
Thankfully, you have other options. The annual enrollment period is your chance to shop around.
Other Plans May Be More Attractive
If your plan isn’t changing, or if you are OK with the changes, you may think that there’s no reason to shop around. This can be a mistake.
Changes don’t just impact your plan. Other plans may be changing, too, and these changes could make the other plans more attractive.
For example, let’s say that when you enrolled in your plan, you were considering two different but very similar plans. You would have been happy with either. Now the other plan is adding a new benefit, while your plan has stayed the same. Before, the plans were about equal, but now, the other plan is much better for your needs. It makes sense to switch.
Your Annual Notice of Change only includes information about your plan. It doesn’t tell you about changes in other plans that might be appealing to you. If you want to learn about these changes, you need to shop around during the annual enrollment period.
New Plans Enter the Market
Every year, new plans become available as carriers enter the Medicare market and expand into new areas. If there are new plans in your region, it makes sense to take a look at them. Even if you’re happy with your current plan, you might find that you’d be even happier with one of these new plans.
Your Reasons for Selecting a Plan May No Longer Apply
Even if your costs and benefits have stayed the same, the reasons you initially had for selecting your plan may no longer apply.
For example, maybe you have diabetes, and you selected your current plan because it provided insulin with a $35 monthly cap. Before, only some plans offered this. However, starting in 2023, Medicare says that all Medicare Part D plans will offer insulin at $35 a month.
You should also watch for network changes. Most Medicare Advantage plans use a network of doctors and hospitals. If you go out of network, your costs might be significantly higher, so it’s important to make sure your doctors and facilities are in your plan’s network. However, doctors and facilities may join or leave networks, so this is always changing. If your providers have updated their network memberships, your coverage could be impacted.
Obtain Peace of Mind
If you shop around this open enrollment period, you might decide that your current plan is still the best plan for your needs. That’s great! You’re not required to switch. You can keep your current plan, confident that it really is the right one for you.
If you don’t shop around, you can still keep your plan, but you might not be so confident. Whether or not you decide to switch, shopping around now can give you peace of mind throughout the next year.
It doesn’t need to be difficult, either. An insurance agent can help you assess your needs and suggest plans that you might be interested in. It won’t take much of your time, and you could save money and get better coverage as a result.
Do you need help reviewing your Medicare plan options? Get in touch with Medicare Educators.