Tips to navigate the Medicare Annual Enrollment Period
12:14 PM, Nov 20, 2017
The Medicare Annual Enrollment Period runs from Oct. 15 to Dec. 7, and in most cases is the one time of year where you can make changes to your Medicare coverage.
Even if you’re happy with your current Medicare plan now is the time to explore your options to see if you can save money and get more of what you’re looking for in 2018. Compiled below are tips to help you navigate the Medicare Annual Enrollment Period.
1. Identify your benefit needs
When considering what benefits you need, look back over the previous year to determine what benefits you selected. Also think about what care you may need in the upcoming year. This helps you review plans, as well as estimate your annual costs. Remember to consider your monthly premiums, deductibles, copays and prescription drug costs. Depending on your current health situation, you may want to reevaluate your current Medicare plan.
You should also note any updates that your health care provider has made to your current plan, as premiums, prescription coverage, and benefits may change from year to year.
2. Understand which plans are available
Original Medicare, offered by the federal government, is the most basic form of Medicare coverage and consists of Part A (hospital coverage) and Part B (medical coverage). Original Medicare covers around 80 percent of your medical expenses, and it does not include prescription coverage.
To help with what Original Medicare doesn’t cover, many choose to enroll in a Medicare Advantage or a Medigap plan for additional coverage. Both of these options are available through private insurance companies and have a monthly premium in addition to your Part B premium, although some Medicare Advantage plans have a $0 monthly premium.
Make sure you know the difference between these two options:
• Medicare Advantage plans offer everything Original Medicare does, plus more. Medicare Advantage plans tend to have lower premiums and offer a network of doctors. Some also offer out-of-network coverage, which can be beneficial if you travel or spend your winter in a warmer climate. Medicare Advantage plans also usually include prescription drug coverage. Most also include extras such as: dental coverage options, gym memberships, and services to help you manage your health.
• Medigap plans, also known as Medicare Supplement Insurance, work side-by-side with Original Medicare and help pay deductibles, coinsurance or copayments that Original Medicare doesn’t cover. With a Medigap plan, you can go to any doctor that participates with Medicare. But because these plans don’t include prescription drug coverage, you’ll need to purchase a separate Part D plan.