Medicare Open Enrollment Season is NOW!
by Diana J. Batchelor
The annual Medicare Open Enrollment period for 2019 coverage has started (beginning on October 15) and continues until December 7, 2018.
During the annual enrollment period (AEP) you can change various aspects of your coverage, including the following:
- switch from Original Medicare to Medicare Advantage, or vice versa.
- switch from one Medicare Advantage plan to another or from one Medicare Part D (prescription drug) plan to another.
- enroll in a Medicare Part D plan, if you had not already done so when you were first eligible (note: a late enrollment penalty may apply).
For a complete list of all the changes you can make during the AEP, go to www.medicare.gov.If you want to enroll in a Medicare Advantage plan, you must meet some basic criteria.
- You must be enrolled in Medicare Part A and B.
- You must live in the plan’s service area.
- You cannot have End-Stage Renal Disease (some exceptions apply).
If you’re already enrolled in a Medicare Part D prescription plan or a Medicare Advantage Plan and you don’t want to make changes to your coverage for the coming year, you don’t need to do anything during open enrollment, assuming your current plan will continue to be available. If your plan is being discontinued and isn’t eligible for renewal, you will receive a non-renewal notice from your carrier prior to open enrollment. If you don’t, it means you can keep your plan without doing anything during open enrollment.
However, be aware that your benefits and premium could change from one year to the next. So even if you’re confident that you want to keep your current coverage for the following year, it’s important to make sure you understand any changes that may apply, and that you’ve double checked to make sure that your current plan is still the best available option for you. The available plans and what they cover changes from one year to the next, so even if the plan you have now was the best option when you shopped last year, it’s important to verify that again before you lock yourself in for another year.
Medicare Smarts Quiz
Medicareresources.org is a great resource. Take their online 20-question quiz (https://www.medicareresources.org/quiz/medicare-smarts/) to assess your familiarity with the basics of Medicare. From your score, you can determine whether you understand the basics well enough to make informed enrollment decisions. Check out MedicareResources.org to gain information to clear up any confusion or aid your decision making.