| Wed, Nov 02, 2011 @ 09:00 AM

Annual Enrollment Period – Time to Decide

Posted by Medicare Made Clear

If you need to join, switch or drop your Medicare plan, the Annual Enrollment Period (AEP) is the time to do it – and you still have time! Every year between October 15 and December 7, you have the opportunity to make changes to your Medicare plan. During the Annual Enrollment Period (AEP), you can join, switch or drop a Medicare Advantage (Medicare Part C) plan or Part D prescription drug coverage. If you don’t act soon—before the AEP closes on December 7—you’ll be committed to your existing plan for another year (absent special circumstances). Are you ready to make a change? There’s still time!

Original Medicare

This is the starting point for all Medicare beneficiaries. Original Medicare (Medicare Parts A and B) is a government-sponsored program that provides insurance coverage for hospital and medical costs you incur when you use doctors, specialists and medical facilities. Costs include a Medicare Part B monthly premium, deductibles, coinsurance and copays. There are other ways for Medicare beneficiaries to get health insurance coverage, too. During the AEP you can switch from Original Medicare to a different plan, for example a Medicare Advantage plan.

Medicare Advantage Plans

If you’re enrolled in Original Medicare but are thinking about joining a coordinated care plan with a wider range of benefits, the AEP is the time to join a Medicare Advantage plan. Medicare Advantage plans offer all of the coverage of Original Medicare, including hospital and medical coverage, and may include additional benefits like vision, dental, hearing and wellness care.

Medicare Part D Prescription Drug Coverage

During the AEP, you can also make changes to your Medicare Part D prescription drug coverage. Some Medicare Advantage plans include prescription drug benefits, so you might want to use the AEP to join a plan that offers this benefit. If you are already enrolled in a Medicare Advantage plan with a prescription drug benefit, you can also switch to a different plan that might better meet your needs. If you are happy with the health care coverage you receive under Original Medicare and just need prescription drug coverage, you can use the AEP to join a standalone Part D prescription drug plan that can be used with your Original Medicare coverage.

Comparing costs – Medicare Advantage and Part D Prescription Drug Coverage

  • Even if you are enrolled in a Medicare Advantage plan (with or without prescription drug coverage) or a standalone Medicare Part D prescription drug plan, you’ll need to continue paying your Medicare Part B premium. Additional Medicare Advantage plan costs may include monthly plan premiums, deductibles, coinsurance and copays.
  • Because plans are offered by private companies, costs vary from company to company and plan to plan.
  • To research and compare Medicare Advantage plans with and without prescription drug coverage and Part D standalone prescription drug plans in your area, go to the Medicare.gov plan finder page. After providing some basic information (like your ZIP code), the plan finder will assemble a list of Medicare plans in your area so you can compare benefits and decide which plan might be right for you.

It’s Time to Decide

Whatever kind of change you wish to make to your Medicare coverage, the AEP—between October 15 and December 7—is the time to do it. Consider your medical needs now and how they may be changing over the coming year. Do you need the coordinated care and extra services of a Medicare Advantage plan, or do you prefer the flexibility of Original Medicare where you can choose your own doctors and medical facilities? It’s time to determine your needs, do your research and choose your plan so that you’ll be well-covered for the coming year.

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 at 1-877-619-5582, TTY 711, 8 a.m. – 8 p.m. local time, seven days a week.

Resources:

CMS’ Medicare & You 2011 – Medicare.gov

Understanding Medicare Enrollment Periods – Medicare.gov

Medicare.gov Plan Finder tool https://www.medicare.gov/find-a-plan/questions/home.aspx

Y0066_111019_114404 File & Use 10292011