If you are enrolled in original Medicare or a Medicare Advantage program, the time has arrived: Medicare Open Enrollment period kicks off October 15 and runs through December 7. During this period you can make certain changes to your coverage. The changes become effective January 1, 2023.
If you are already on a plan other than traditional Medicare, you should have received or will soon receive a “Plan Annual Notice of Change” informing you about any changes in coverage, costs, etc. You should read that information carefully.
Here’s a quick video from Medicare about Open Enrollment:
Changes You Can Make During Open Enrollment
Deciding what changes you wish to make, if any, requires considering many factors. You must evaluate your current health status, your finances, the terms of your existing plan and other available plans. Have doctors you like been dropped from your plan? Have new ones been added? Have there been cost increases? What prescription drugs have been added or taken away from your existing plan? Are you paying for prescription drugs you do not need? Weighing these issues can be a formidable task. Perhaps that is why, according to a 2019 study from the nonprofit Kaiser Family Foundation, only 6 to 11% of enrollees switch Medicare Advantage plans and only 10-13% switch drug plans during open enrollment. However, if you do not put in the effort, you could be leaving money on the table, or not getting a higher level of care available to you at this point.
Here are the changes that you are permitted to make during Open Enrollment:
- Switch from original Medicare to a Medicare Advantage Plan (C). More information on Advantage plans.
- Drop a Medicare Advantage Plan and enroll in original Medicare.
- Switch from one Medicare Advantage Plan to another Medicare Advantage Plan.
- Join a Medicare Prescription Plan (Part D), drop a Medicare Prescription Plan, or switch to a different Medicare Prescription Plan. (See our blog post on changes coming to Part D plans. Some changes do not commence until 2024, but monthly co-pays for one commonly used drug, insulin, will be capped at $30 starting in January 2023.)
Assistance and Information
The National Committee on Quality Assurance rates Advantage programs based on quality of service, patient satisfaction. You can research programs by state.
Remember, It’s Prime Time for Scams
Medicare numbers, bank account numbers, any personal data: these are the keys to the castle for scammers. Open Enrollment is prime time for bad actors to try to get this information, so be extra vigilant. You may get unsolicited text messages, emails, robocalls.
Also, we are being deluged right now with TV commercials featuring Joe Namath, Jimmy Walker and others hawking Medicare Advantage Plans. Those pitches are legal, and the promoted plans may in fact be useful for some people. But don’t let the fancy ads lead you astray from your goal: identifying the benefits you truly need and securing the best coverage at the best price.