| Thu, Aug 18, 2011 @ 09:00 AM

It’s Smart to Review Your Medicare Needs and Coverage Once a Year

Posted by Medicare Made Clear

Reviewing you coverage annually is a good idea. You may find that your needs have changed, or that there are going to be changes to your current plan.Once your Initial Enrollment Period (IEP) is over and you’ve selected your Medicare plan(s), you will have the opportunity to review your coverage and make changes annually. As you go through this annual process you may find that your needs have changed, or that the terms of your plan are going to change in the coming year. This is why it is so important to take advantage of the Annual Enrollment Period and to take the time to review your Medicare needs and coverage every year.

Annual Enrollment Period

The Annual Enrollment Period (AEP) runs four weeks earlier this year from October 15, 2011 through December 7, 2011. Changes made during this period go into effect on January 1, 2012. During this time you can opt in or out of the Medicare Advantage (Medicare Part C) plans available in your area as well as Original Medicare (Medicare Parts A and B) plans available to all Medicare beneficiaries.

Taking the time during AEP to review your coverage and consider your choices can help ensure that you have the coverage you need, and aren’t paying for coverage you don’t use.  The review process may also help you identify coverage gaps, learn about changes in the Medicare program, and learn about any newly introduced plans offered by private insurers in your area.

Special Election Periods

A Special Election Period is available to beneficiaries in unique circumstances:

  • If you moving outside of the service area of your Medicare Advantage plan
  • If your Medicare Advantage organization changing its terms significantly or violating its contract with you
  • Other exceptional conditions

The dates of a Special Election Period depend on the circumstances. Because of the very specific circumstances tied to Special Enrollment Periods, it is a good idea to take advantage of the AEP if you are interested in changing your coverage.

Reviewing Your Medicare Coverage and Choices Available to You

  • Are you happy with Original Medicare, or your current Medicare Advantage plan? If not, learn about your other choices and consider switching.
  • Do you have prescription drug coverage? If the answer is no, and you feel that you need it, consider purchasing Part D prescription drug coverage, or enrolling in a Medicare Advantage (Part C) plan that includes prescription drug coverage.
  • Consider a Medicare Supplement Insurance plan (also known as Medigap), which can help pay some costs not paid by Original Medicare. Availability and terms of Medicare Supplement Insurance vary by state.

Once you have reviewed your choices and decided which plan or plans are right for you, you’re prepared for AEP. So go ahead, begin the decision-making process today. Review the rest of the Medicare Made Clear Blog and visit our website; we’re here to help answer your tough questions about Medicare election periods.

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. You can also contact UnitedHealthcare® Medicare Made Clear to learn more 1-877-619-5582, TTY 711, 8 a.m. – 8 p.m. local time, seven days a week.

Resources:

Learn more getting ready for Medicare – MMC

Find out about Medicare enrollment periods – SSS.gov