| Wed, Nov 13, 2013 @ 09:00 AM

It’s Time to Decide: Medicare Open Enrollment Boot Camp

Posted by Medicare Made Clear

medicare advantageThe final installment in a series of eight articles to help you make informed Medicare coverage decisions

Medicare Open Enrollment ends December 7. It’s time to make your Medicare decisions for 2014 if you haven’t already done so.

Depending on your current coverage and your needs, you may decide to:

  • Change the way you get your Medicare benefits
  • Switch from one Medicare Advantage or prescription drug plan to another
  • Drop prescription drug coverage completely
  • Do nothing and keep the coverage you have

You can get your Medicare benefits in two ways—either through Original Medicare (Parts A and B) or through a private Medicare Advantage plan. Original Medicare is administered by the government. Medicare Advantage plans are offered by private insurance companies approved by Medicare. These plans provide all the coverage that Original Medicare Parts A and B do. Many also include additional benefits, such as drug coverage and vision and dental care.

Changing the Way You Get Your Coverage

To switch from a Medicare Advantage plan to Original Medicare, simply notify the plan that you want to disenroll. Your coverage will automatically revert to Original Medicare. Make sure you do your homework and that you feel confident before you make this switch. If you change your mind, you may have to wait until the next Medicare Open Enrollment to re-enroll in a Medicare Advantage plan.

If you go back to Original Medicare, you may also want to consider adding a standalone prescription drug plan (Part D) to your coverage. Part D plans are offered by private insurance companies approved by Medicare. Original Medicare does not cover prescription drugs. It’s important to note that you cannot be without creditable drug coverage for longer than 63 days without incurring a premium penalty if you decide to get it later.

Many people also add a Medicare supplement insurance plan to help with some costs that Original Medicare doesn’t cover. Check with your State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP) to learn about Medicare supplement insurance plans where you live.

To leave Original Medicare and enroll in a Medicare Advantage plan, all you need to do is sign up for the new plan. You don’t have to tell Original Medicare about the change, however, you should receive confirmation that you have been accepted into the Medicare Advantage plan.

Switching to a Different Private Medicare Plan

To change from one Medicare Advantage plan to another or from one Medicare prescription drug plan to another, you can just sign up for the new plan. Typically, you are automatically disenrolled from your old plan. You may want to notify the old plan about the change, just for good measure. But it’s not required. You should receive confirmation that you are accepted into the new plan.

Take Action

It’s important to take time to review your Medicare coverage each year. You may decide to make a change or not. Either way, you may rest easier knowing that you gave due consideration to your needs and choices.

For your convenience, here are links to all the previous articles in the Medicare Made Clear Open Enrollment Boot Camp. Each one provides information, tools and support to help you navigate Medicare Open Enrollment.

You can also find all of the articles in our Boot Camp series in one spot, if you like. We hope these articles help you to make an informed decision about your Medicare coverage for 2014.

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 & You: Learn about Original Medicare coverage and costs in this annual publication.

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