How to avoid common Medicare open enrollment mistakes
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Medicareresources.org offers five tips for AEP, which starts Oct. 15
Minneapolis, MN, Oct. 04, 2021 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Medicareresources.org announced today the release of its 2022 Medicare Open Enrollment Guide and provided five tips for evaluating and selecting Medicare coverage.
One of the biggest missteps consumers make during the annual Medicare open enrollment period? Simply missing out on the annual opportunity, which starts Oct. 15, to make changes that could improve their Medicare coverage or make it more affordable. The enrollment period closes Dec. 7.
“If you don’t take a little time to compare options during open enrollment, you’re probably leaving money on the table,” said Louise Norris, a licensed broker and analyst for medicareresources.org. “You may pay too much in premiums, or miss out on a plan that would cut your out-of-pocket costs at the pharmacy.”
Here are more strategies to keep in mind:
Make sure this Medicare open enrollment period is actually for you.
Medicare open enrollment is for people who have already enrolled in Medicare. If you are enrolled, you can:
- Switch from Original Medicare to Medicare Advantage – or the other way around.
- Switch from one Medicare Advantage plan to another, or from one Medicare Part D prescription drug plan to another.
Also, if you are a Medicare beneficiary with a disability or chronic condition - including now end-stage renal disease under the terms of the 21st Century Cures Act -- regardless of your age this may also be an opportunity to enroll in a Medicare Advantage plan.
The fall open enrollment period does not apply to Medigap plans, which provide supplemental insurance coverage for Original Medicare's out-of-pocket costs. These plans are only guaranteed-issue in most states during a beneficiary's initial open enrollment period. If it's been more than six months since you enrolled in Medicare, your application will likely be subject to medical underwriting.
Haven’t yet enrolled in Medicare? That can happen when you first qualify, during a special enrollment period or during the general enrollment period each year between Jan. 1 and March 31.
Don’t overlook changes in your own situation.
Your medical or financial situation may very well have changed over the past year, and that means it’s likely your coverage needs have also changed.
You may find you need a plan that better fits your budget, and a quick review of your options could reveal a less expensive plan with coverage that still meets your needs. Or, you may find that you're now willing and able to pay for more robust coverage than you've had in the past, and the open enrollment period gives you a chance to make that change. Your changing health or prescription drug needs may also be a reason to look at a plan with additional benefits.
Don’t focus on the premium alone.
Each part of Medicare has costs that go along with it -- either in the form of premiums, out-of-pocket costs when you need medical care, or both -- and those costs are always changing. But along with premiums, be sure to factor in a plan’s out-of-pocket costs, including copayments, deductibles and coinsurance costs.
“Don’t be caught off guard. It’s up to you, the savvy consumer, to pick a plan that is not only good for your health but also good for your wallet,” said Dr. Tanya Feke, a physician analyst for medicareresources.org. “As a retiree on a fixed income this becomes more important than ever. The more you know, the better you can plan for your financial future.”
Don’t assume your provider networks and drug costs will stay the same.
Along with premium changes, provider networks for these plans and prescription drug costs also change, meaning your doctors and preferred pharmacy might not continue to be in-network with your current plan.
Find more detailed information about Medicare open enrollment in the “Medicare Open Enrollment 2022 Guide."
Medicareresources.org is one of the longest running sources of in-depth information about health insurance for consumers. The site provides an overview of the basics of Medicare coverage options, enrollment and eligibility; coverage FAQs; state-specific Medicare information; and a glossary of Medicare terms.
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