| Tue, Nov 06, 2012 @ 09:00 AM

OEP Boot Camp: Decide and Take Action

Posted by Medicare Made Clear

OEP ends December 7 open enrollment windowThe last in a 6-post series designed to help you make informed Medicare choices for 2013.

The Medicare Open Enrollment Period (OEP) ends on December 7. You have until then to change your Medicare choices for 2013 if you choose to.

You need to decide soon—if you haven’t already—what you are going to do. If you are happy with your current coverage, then you don’t need to do anything. Your current coverage choices will continue next year. If you change your coverage choices during OEP, then your new coverage will take effect on January 1, 2013.

Earlier articles in this series offered help in assessing your health needs, your budget and your current Medicare coverage. We covered provider networks, prescription drug coverage and more. Now it’s time for you to put it all together.

Check Out Your Choices

Your first choice is between Original Medicare and Medicare Advantage. Here are a few things you need to know if you decide to switch from one to the other.

  • If you switch from Original Medicare to Medicare Advantage: You remain enrolled in Medicare Part A and Part B when you join a Medicare Advantage plan. You still have Medicare, but you receive your benefits through the plan.

You automatically leave Original Medicare when you join a Medicare Advantage plan. If you change your mind, you can go back to Original Medicare during the Medicare Disenrollment Period, January 1 – February 14, 2013.

Once you disenroll from the Medicare Advantage plan, you have until February 14, 2013 to join a Medicare prescription drug plan if you choose to. Original Medicare does not cover prescription drugs. Most Medicare Advantage plans do.

  • If you switch from Medicare Advantage to Original Medicare: You’ll need to disenroll from your Medicare Advantage plan. When you do, you will automatically return to Original Medicare. It’s best to call your current plan or Medicare to do this. Your plan’s customer service number is on your member card. You can call Medicare at 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227), TTY 1-877-486-2048, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Remember that you can join a Medicare prescription drug plan during OEP, too. You may want to consider this if you’re leaving a Medicare Advantage plan that included drug coverage.

You may also switch from one Medicare Advantage plan to another—or from one Medicare prescription drug plan to another—during OEP. You’ll be automatically disenrolled from your current plan when you enroll in a different one.

If you decide to explore Medicare Advantage or prescription drug plans, you may have many plan choices. You can use the Plan Finder tool at Medicare.gov to look for plans in your area. Review the plan terms carefully. You may want to compare the ones you’re interested in side by side. The Medicare Plan Finder Worksheet may help you to do the comparison.

How To Change Your Coverage

Medicare.gov is a good place to start. You can research Original Medicare and private plans in your area. The web site offers online enrollment as well, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

You can also apply for a Medicare Advantage plan or prescription drug plan directly with the insurance company offering it. Most allow you to apply online, by phone or through a local insurance agent.

Many insurance agents hold events at community locations. You get your questions answered in person get help with enrollment. Watch for announcements in the mail, at your pharmacy and anywhere that community events might be held in your neighborhood.

Now What?

This is the final article in our OEP Boot Camp series. The Medicare Open Enrollment Period ends in just one month, on December 7.

We hope the information and tools we’ve shared are helpful as you consider your 2013 Medicare choices. You can use the links at the end of this article to access all the previous ones. In addition, you can get help from these resources:

  • Medicare.gov, where you can download a copy of Medicare & You 2013, search for plans and find other helpful information

  • Private health insurance company web sites for information about 2013 Medicare Advantage (Part C) and Medicare prescription drug (Part D) plans

  • The 2013 Annual Notice of Changes mailed to you from your Medicare Part C or Part D plan, if you’re currently enrolled in one

  • A licensed health insurance agent in your community who can discuss all your plan choices with you

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.

Resources

Medicare.gov: Visit the official U.S. government site for Medicare.

Medicare Choices Worksheet: Use this handy tool to see which coverage choices may best met your needs.

Choose a Plan: Learn what to look at when comparing Medicare plans.

 

Read other posts in this series:

 

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