Medicare = Freedom and Flexibility of ChoicePosted by Medicare Made Clear
If you’ve already signed up for a Medicare plan, are you locked into your choice? The simple answer is no. Medicare offers you the freedom to add, switch or drop coverage every year. This gives you the flexibility to change your coverage as your needs change.
Am I getting what I want from my plan?
The things you want and need from your Medicare coverage can change from year to year. The things you don’t need can change, too. So which type of coverage is right for you?
Original Medicare might be right for you if:
- You need basic health care coverage for doctor visits and hospital stays.
- You want to see any doctor who is accepting new Medicare patients—even if you travel out of state.
- You already have prescription drug coverage or don’t mind buying a standalone Medicare Part D prescription drug plan.
- If you have other insurance—like from an employer—that you want to keep, but you also want to take advantage of your Initial Enrollment Period.
- Your current insurance provider doesn’t offer Medicare-approved plans.
- You like the convenience of having one type of coverage for each health care need—medical, hospital, prescription drug coverage, etc.
Medicare Advantage (Part C) might be right for you if:
- You want the same coverage as Original Medicare plus extra benefits, like dental coverage, wellness services or a fitness benefit.
- You are comfortable choosing a doctor from within a plan’s network.
- You like having the option to choose a plan with prescription drug coverage built in.
- You have a chronic illness, like diabetes, and want a Special Needs Plan designed for your unique needs.
- Your current insurance provider offers Medicare-approved plans and you’d be more comfortable sticking with a plan you know.
- You like the convenience of having all your coverage and benefits in a single plan.
How much do I want to pay?
It’s important to make sure your Medicare coverage fits into your budget every year, especially if your situation has changed. Original Medicare generally offers set costs. In other words, most people will pay the same cost for the same services. Medicare Advantage plans offer you flexibility to choose the cost sharing that best fits your needs and budget.
Plan premiums are one part of your overall costs. But there are a few other things to consider, as well. Deductibles, copays and coinsurance are all pieces of the cost puzzle. Original Medicare also doesn’t have an annual out-of-pocket expense cap, but Medicare Advantage plans do. Is this important to you when comparing costs?
Timing – When can I make a change?
The best time to make a change to your Medicare coverage is during the Medicare Annual Enrollment Period (AEP), October 15 to December 7 each year. During this time, you can add, switch or drop most types of Medicare coverage. There are also General Enrollment periods (GEPs) for specific types of plan changes. Visit Medicare.gov to find out more. If you need to change plans because of a change in your life—like moving to another state—you could also qualify for a Special Enrollment period (SEP). Learn about general rules for SEPs here.
Use your freedom of choice.
Change is a constant. Personal, medical and financial changes can mean your Medicare coverage no longer meets your needs. It’s good to know Medicare gives you the freedom and flexibility to get the coverage you need no matter how those needs change.
For more information, contact the Medicare helpline 24 hours a day, seven days a week at 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227), TTY 1-877-486-2048. If you have questions about Medicare Made Clear call 1-877-619-5582, TTY 711, 8 a.m. – 8 p.m. local time, seven days a week.
MedicareMadeClear: 10 Key Things to Know About Medicare
MedicareMadeClear: Medicare Basics
Medicare.gov publication (PDF) Medicare and You
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