| Tue, Sep 10, 2019 @ 07:00 AM

How to Get Ready for the Medicare Annual Enrollment Period

Posted by Medicare Made Clear

Your Medicare plan automatically renews at the beginning of each year unless you change it, but you might not get exactly the same benefits. Insurance companies review and refine their Medicare plan benefits annually.

Rather than simply letting your plan renew, it’s a good idea to make sure it will still meet your needs. You have a chance to change your plan during the Medicare Annual Enrollment Period (AEP) if you decide to. AEP happens every year from October 15 to December 7.

Here are tips to help you make informed decisions about your Medicare coverage during AEP.

Check for Medicare Plan Coverage and Cost Changes

Your Medicare Advantage plan (Part C) or Medicare prescription drug plan (Part D) may change coverage or cost details each year. Changes go into effect on January 1, so you need to understand them when making choices during AEP.

Plans provide an Annual Notice of Change (ANOC) letter that explains any coverage or cost changes for the upcoming year. ANOC letters are typically sent to plan members in September. Take time to read it. Contact your plan provider if you don’t receive one.

Review the Medicare & You Handbook

Medicare & You is the official government handbook that explains Medicare coverage, costs, enrollment and more. It’s updated every year and you can get it online or in print.

The handbook points out new Medicare information and significant changes in store for the coming year, if any. Changes in Medicare rules or policies could affect your coverage, costs or other aspects of your health care, so it’s important to stay up to date.

Think About Your Health Care Needs

Your health care needs can change from year to year as well as your Medicare plan. You may need new or different health care services in the year ahead.

You can’t predict the future, of course, but it’s important to account for known or potential health care needs. Consider the following when choosing a plan during AEP:

  • A developing health concern or new diagnosis
  • Planned procedures or surgeries
  • New medications recommended or prescribed by your doctor
  • A new doctor or other provider you want or need to see
  • Travel plans and the need for health care while away from home
  • Changes in your financial situation that may affect your budget for health care

Find a Medicare Plan that Meets Your Needs

To start, evaluate your current Medicare plan and decide how well it will work for you in the coming year. Our Plan Review Worksheet can help guide you through the process. Be sure to account for plan changes detailed in your plan ANOC letter as well as your health care needs.

Shopping Around for a Medicare Plan

Even if you think your current plan meets your needs, you may have reasons to shop around. Insurance companies release new Medicare plan details on October 1, and they are competing for your business. Use the Medicare Plan Finder to get a list of plans offered in your area.

For more information about Medicare, 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.