Medicare Open Enrollment is now. Are you ready for a change?Posted by Medicare Made Clear
Medicare Open Enrollment is from October 15 through December 7. Now is the time to review your current Medicare coverage and decide whether you want to change it.
If your health or financial situation has changed, you may want to adjust your plan accordingly. Or, you might find a plan with better coverage or lower costs. Any changes you make will take effect on January 1, 2014. You may not be able to make changes outside of Open Enrollment, unless you qualify for a Special Enrollment Period.
You will soon get materials in the mail from Medicare, your Medicare Advantage plan or your Medicare prescription drug plan. These materials will provide details about any changes that have been made to your coverage or costs for 2014. This information as you decide whether you want to stay with your current coverage or make a switch, so read it carefully.
If your current coverage is providing everything you need and you are happy with it, you don’t need to do anything during Medicare Open Enrollment. Your coverage or plan will automatically continue next year.
If you decide you want to change your coverage, here’s a list of the changes you can make during Open Enrollment:
Choose a different Medicare Advantage plan. Most plans require that you use their existing network of pharmacies, health care facilities and providers. It’s important to review their network to see if it includes your doctor and other preferences. If you go outside the network for anything other than emergency services, you will usually have to pay more for those services.
Change from Original Medicare (Parts A & B) to a Medicare Advantage plan (Part C), or vice versa. If you switch back to Original Medicare from a Medicare Advantage plan, you may want to consider a Medicare prescription drug plan (Part D) and/or a Medicare Supplement Insurance plan, because most Medicare Advantage plans include additional coverage beyond Original Medicare.
Medicare and Health Care Reform
Medicare will not be impacted by health care reform and the changes being made are not for Medicare. In a U.S. News & World Report interview with Nicole Duritz, AARP’s vice president for Health Education and Outreach, she indicated that Medicare has been strengthened by Obamacare. “Medicare’s guaranteed benefits are protected in ways they hadn’t been protected in the past,” Duritz said.
The bottom line is, it’s important for you to review your Medicare coverage during the upcoming weeks and determine if you want to make any changes. Otherwise, you might have to wait until the next Medicare Open Enrollment (October 15 – December 7, 2014) to change your coverage, unless you qualify for a Special Enrollment Period.
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.
Medicare.gov: Review this list of tips about Open Enrollment
CMS.gov: Learn important details about your state’s Open Enrollment Period from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services website.
U.S. News & World Report: Read the facts and myths about Obamacare’s effect on Medicare.