When someone needs to change their Medicare coverage, they must wait for an open enrollment period. During this time, they can join a new plan or change their current enrollment. If your needs have evolved and you need to change your Medicare coverage, here are seven things that you should know about Medicare fall open enrollment.
What is Medicare open enrollment?
Every year, there is a set period that lasts about two months in which people can make changes to their Medicare coverage. There is no obligation to make changes during fall open enrollment, but many people use this time to make changes to their coverage for the upcoming year. These changes might include switching to Original Medicare from Medicare Advantage.
It might also include switching from one Medicare Advantage plan to another or to change prescription drug plans such as Medicare Part D. Some people might also use this time to enroll in a Medicare Part D plan. However, there may be a late enrollment penalty.
The Medicare fall open enrollment period begins October 15th
This year, Medicare fall open enrollment begins on October 15th and closes on December 7th. Any changes that a person makes during this time will take effect on January 1st, 2020. If you think you need to make adjustments to your current coverage, it is wise to start thinking of the changes you want to make and discuss these changes with your financial advisor or retirement specialist in advance. This way, you’ll be prepared to make these changes and won’t miss any deadlines.
You can adjust your Medicare plan during the next enrollment period
If you aren’t sure if you need to adjust your Medicare plan, it is wise to review your plan’s materials. They likely send materials through the year, so be sure to keep an eye out for an Evidence of Coverage (EOC) letter and an Annual Notice of Change (ANOC). This will help you keep abreast of any changes in your plan, and you’ll better understand your coverage. If you’re happy with everything in these statements, you likely do not need to make any changes.
Even if you’re satisfied with your current coverage, it might be wise to investigate other plans to know what your options are in the future. This will also help you to track trends in the market and be a better-educated consumer.
Medicare tools and resources are available
Medicare options. Many websites and blogs are full of resources on Part D providers and other plan features that you might need.
The Medicare website provides many reliable tools. Some of these tools include the Plan Finder tool, which compares plans based on the prescriptions you need, the pharmacies available in your area, and your medications’ total cost. They also have blog posts and other information to help you learn about what is available to you.
Additionally, Medicare has a hotline to help people find out what plans are available in their areas. You can call 1-800-MEDICARE to learn what Medicare plans are available. Additionally, Medicare.gov has a wealth of resources, including information to read. The site also has tools that can help you find coverage, find care providers, and more.
Once you have a shortlist of providers and plans available to you, be sure to research each option. You can do this by searching for each provider online and visiting their website. Many providers also have hotlines that you can call to ask specific questions about what they include and your eligibility.
It is important to note that information regarding the following year’s plans is typically published around October 1st. While it’s essential to do your research, verify what you’re reading online. Make sure the information is both up-to-date and relevant to what will be available to you next year.
The best way to enroll is directly with Medicare
As you do your research, you might notice that there are services available that promise to help you enroll in Medicare. However, these services may collect additional fees for services you can get for free from Medicare directly.
Therefore, you should register now with Medicare. Once you have confirmed your new plan’s details, you can enroll by calling 1-800-MEDICARE or by visiting Medicare.gov.
There’s a difference between Medicare fall open enrollment and open enrollment for the state or federal marketplaces
It is important to note that the Medicare fall open enrollment period is not the same as the Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment Period (MA OEP). The MA OEP happens each year between January 1st and March 31st. This period allows people to switch between Medicare Advantage Plans.
Additionally, the Exchanges, or federal Marketplaces, have varying open enrollment periods as well. These enrollment periods may overlap with Medicare fall open enrollment but are not usually meant for Medicare eligibility. Instead, they are meant for people under age 65 who need low-cost healthcare options.
Additional Medicare coverage changes for 2020
There are a few changes that Medicare recipients should be aware of this year. The first is that Medigap Plans C and F are no longer available to newly eligible Medicare recipients. These changes help avoid people over-using their healthcare plans. Because Medicare Plans C and F cover the deductible on Part B services, the changes will now mean that new users must pay their Part B deductibles out of pocket.
Medicare Advantage plans, which continue to grow in popularity, will continue to see changes. These changes will come in coverage options provided in different states and by the various providers. There is no uniform change with Medicare Advantage plans, so it is crucial that each Medicare Advantage buyer stays up-to-date on what their plan offers.
Additionally, Medicare Part B premiums have increased from $135.50 per month to $144.60 per month. For most people, Social Security’s annual increase will be enough to cover this change in cost.
Finally, the income threshold for how much enrollees pay for Medicare Part B and Part D premiums has increased. The high-income threshold used to be $85,000 for a single person and is now $87,000. In contrast, the threshold for a couple was $170,000 and is now $174,000 per year. Those who exceed these amounts will be required to pay higher Medicare Part B and Part D premiums.
The bottom line
Medicare can be complicated, but it is vital to have adequate healthcare coverage. The right coverage, although costly upfront, can save you a lot of money. This is especially true if you become ill or need to purchase prescriptions. Therefore, it is crucial to make sure that you have the Medicare coverage you need.
If you are unsure of what coverage you need, it is essential to speak to a financial advisor. They will help you navigate the Medicare Marketplace and understand where the best place is to allocate your funds. They will also be able to help you stay on top of the changes in Medicare Plans and the open enrollment dates.