You Have Choices: Medicare Open Enrollment 2014Posted by Medicare Made Clear
Medicare Open Enrollment starts October 15 and lasts through December 7. This is the one time each year that anyone who has Medicare may choose to enroll in a new Medicare Advantage plan or prescription drug plan. (Other enrollment periods are available but only if you meet certain criteria.) Any changes you make will go into effect on January 1.
Even if you’ve been satisfied with your current Medicare coverage, it’s smart to use Open Enrollment as a time to review the coverage you have and what changes may be in store for the next year. Read the Medicare & You handbook that Medicare sends out before Open Enrollment to see if and how Part A and Part B coverage may change for the coming year. If you have a Medicare Advantage (Part C) plan, you’ll receive an Annual Notice of Change (ANOC) from your plan that will explain any coverage or network updates. These resources are essential for helping you to make informed Medicare decisions during Open Enrollment.
The specific actions you can take during Open Enrollment depend on your current coverage. Here’s a run-down.
If you currently have Original Medicare Parts A & B, you can:
- Change from Original Medicare to a Medicare Advantage plan.
- Join a standalone Medicare prescription drug plan. (If you are changing to a Medicare Advantage plan, your new plan may include drug coverage. In this case, you wouldn’t need a standalone drug plan.)
If you currently have a Medicare prescription drug plan, you can:
- Switch from one Medicare prescription drug plan (Part D) to another Medicare prescription drug plan.
- Drop your Medicare prescription drug coverage completely. (Make sure you understand the consequences of doing this. It may cost you more should you decide you want coverage again later.)
If you currently have a Medicare Advantage plan, you can:
- Change from a Medicare Advantage plan back to Original Medicare.
- Switch from one Medicare Advantage plan to another Medicare Advantage plan.
- Switch from a Medicare Advantage plan that doesn’t offer drug coverage to a Medicare Advantage plan that offers drug coverage.
- Switch from a Medicare Advantage plan that offers drug coverage to a Medicare Advantage Plan that doesn’t offer drug coverage. In this case, you may want to look into a standalone prescription drug plan. (Make sure you understand the consequences of not having credible drug coverage. It may cost you more should you decide you want coverage again later.)
While you’re considering how any coverage changes may affect your Medicare decisions, don’t forget to factor in your health and financial status as well. A new diagnosis, a new area of concern with your health or changes in your finances may mean you’d benefit from different coverage. It could pay to shop around.
For more information, explore MedicareMadeClear.com or 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.
Medicare.gov: Visit the official U.S. government site for Medicare.