Medicare’s Annual Enrollment Period (“AEP”) is October 15 – December 7, 2020. During AEP, current Medicare beneficiaries have an opportunity to review their Medicare plan, consider what is working well, what needs to be adjusted, and implement the changes they would like to make to their plans.
During AEP, you can change your Medicare Advantage plan, switch from Medicare Advantage to Original Medicare and add Medicare Part D, or join a Medicare Advantage plan if you are enrolled in Original Medicare and have both Medicare Parts A and B. Any changes to your Medicare plan will be effective starting January 1, 2021. AEP is for current Medicare beneficiaries only and, of course, you must meet all eligibility requirements for any plan you choose.
With 34% of Medicare eligible seniors saying they are not sure if they will change their Medicare plan during AEP, and 15% saying they are likely to change their plan during AEP, there are many aspects of their healthcare for seniors to consider that may help them to decide whether to make a change to their Medicare plan during AEP.
Health Status & Heath Plan
Before considering any changes to your Medicare plan, it’s first important to evaluate your current health status so that you can determine if your plan fits your needs. Some of the questions to consider are: Has your health changed in any way? Have your prescriptions changed? Do you need coverage for dental, vision, or hearing? Or are you considering implementing some new technologies like tablets or smartwatches to your healthcare strategy?
Consider the experiences you’ve had with your current Medicare plan; are you happy with the plan? Has it changed at all during the course of the year? Are your doctors still in the network? Does the plan cover your prescriptions?
And make sure to review your insurance company’s Annual Notice of Change (“ANOC”), which arrived in September. The ANOC will let you know if the insurance company is making any changes to your plan next year that may impact your benefits, so make sure to read it carefully and be sure to ask your insurance company if you have any questions about the changes they are going to make.
Budget and Out of Pocket Costs
Next, take a look at how much you have spent on your healthcare throughout the course of the year. Are you meeting or exceeding your annual budget for healthcare costs? Do you have money set aside for an unexpected accident or illness? Did you spend money on dental, vision, or hearing visits? How much did you spend on prescriptions? What is your budget for your healthcare next year?
It is important to consider your annual expenses for your healthcare plan because it may be possible to reduce your out of pocket expenses if you adjust your plan. On the other hand, if you are satisfied with your annual expenses, it may let you know that your plan is a good fit.
After you have reviewed your health status, your current Medicare plan, your budget and out of pocket costs, you may be ready to consider adjusting your benefits. To find more information about the plans available in your area, 61% of Medicare beneficiaries start by researching on the internet at sites like Medicare.gov.
In addition to researching online, it may be helpful to speak with an agent, in-person or over the telephone, who can help you walk through the options available in your area. Since each plan will be different by state, county and even by city, it is important to consider where you will be residing throughout the course of the year.
Medicare’s Annual Enrollment Period is an opportunity to consider what you like about your Medicare plan so that your plan fits your healthcare and budgetary needs.
Jan Dubauskas is a healthcare expert, enthusiastic insurance pro, attorney and mom serving as vice president of healthinsurance.com.
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