Medicare open enrollment is coming – Are you prepared

The open enrollment period for Medicare is from October 15th to December 7th, during which you can choose to continue with or opt for a plan that better fits your needs for the coming year. It is also the time of the year when your mailbox must be flooded with various options from private insurers.

Important dates for Medicare open enrollment
Starting October 1, 2019 you can compare your current coverage with other options available for the year 2020. By October 15th to December 7th, 2019 change or retain your existing Medicare health or prescription medication coverage for 2020. From January 1st, 2020, your new coverage (if changed) or existing coverage (with any changes in plan’s costs or benefits) takes effect. If you’re in a Medicare Advantage plan, from January 1st to March 31st 2020, you can make a change to a different Medicare Advantage plan or switch back to original Medicare (and join a stand-alone Medicare prescription medication plan) once during the time.

During the annual Medicare open enrollment period, you can make changes to various aspects of your coverage such as

  • Switch to Medicare Advantage from Original Medicare, or vice versa.
  • Change over from one Medicare Advantage plan to another.
  • Enroll in Medicare Part D plan if you didn’t enroll earlier or switch from on part D plan to another.

You can opt for the Medicare Advantage plan if you are enrolled in Medicare parts A and B. To be eligible for this plan, you must live in the service area.

Selecting a suitable coverage plan for seniors
Comparing plans to suit your health care needs is the single best way to manage costs. Although it is the simplest way to ensure you have optimum coverage, surveys show that many people fail to read the documents and miss out on ways to improve their coverage. This season, particularly, there are new rules governing prescription-medication coverage and out-of-pocket expenses, and there are various new benefits available in Medicare Advantage plans offered by private insurers. In fact, the Medicare Advantage premiums have dropped by 14% for 2020 open enrollment. The Medicare plan finder, the primary tool for sizing up coverage options has been completely redesigned, with new benefits and some fresh challenges for seniors.

It’s advisable to focus on the factors that are important for your health. Enlist what’s important to you before you start checking on the plans available. If you’re on traditional Medicare, read the latest “Medicare &You” handbook, which is available on their website. What works for you now may not work for the next year. Maybe your needs have changed this year as you may have been prescribed expensive new medications, where you may have to add a Part D plan to cover these prescriptions. For some, access to your primary care physician, specialists or hospital is most important. Do not get taken up by freebies and fringe benefits that may mislead you into picking a plan that’s not appropriate for your healthcare.

Some important points to keep in mind while selecting a coverage are

  • For original Medicare enrollees, prescription medication plans (Plan D) can be done only through private insurance companies.
  • Most Medicare Advantage (MA) plans include prescription medication coverage.
  • In case the MA plan doesn’t include prescription medication plans you can purchase a stand-alone prescription drug plan.
  • Your first opportunity to enroll in a prescription medication plan is during initial open enrollment. You can enroll in a later date during general open enrollment, with the payment of a late enrollment penalty which will be added to your premium. Plan D is important if you are on prescription medication to avoid significant costs on them.

You can get help on Medicare open enrollment plan selections by calling their marketplace or through agents or through in-person help from a list of local people and organizations that help you go through and select the best options.