(Abridged from SHIPHELP.org)
The start of Medicare’s Open Enrollment period is just weeks away, meaning that seniors will need to make important decisions about their health insurance coverage over the next two months. The annual Open Enrollment Period is the time of year when Medicare beneficiaries can make changes to their insurance coverage. Open Enrollment runs from October 15 through December 7, and any changes made make will take effect on January 1, 2022.
Insurance is difficult to understand, and Medicare is no exception. This blog from the State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP) covers some important things that seniors need to know during this upcoming Open Enrollment Period, including what changes can be made, and how to review coverage.
What changes can be made during Medicare’s Open Enrollment Period?
During Medicare’s Open Enrollment, beneficiaries can make certain changes to their health insurance coverage, including adding, dropping or changing Medicare Advantage and Part D coverage. Seniors can make as many changes as they need to during this period, but only the last coverage choice will take effect in January.
Other potential changes include switching from Original Medicare to a Medicare Advantage Plan, or from a Medicare Advantage Plan to Original Medicare. Depending on the state in which the senior lives, they may also have a right to buy a Medigap policy during this time.
How can seniors review their Medicare Coverage and what should they look for?
Beneficiaries receive a lot of mail before and during Medicare’s Open Enrollment Period, so it is important to watch for which mailings include information about their current coverage. Critical considerations include access to the health care providers and pharmacies they want to use, as well as access to benefits and services they need, and the total costs for insurance premiums, deductibles, and cost-sharing amounts.
Those with Original Medicare can visit www.medicare.gov or read the 2022 “Medicare & You” handbook to learn about Original Medicare benefits for 2022. Beneficiaries with a Medicare Advantage Plan or a stand-alone Part D plan should read their plan’s Annual Notice of Change, or ANOC, and Evidence of Coverage, or EOC. These notices list any changes to the plan in 2022. Pay special attention to any changes in the plan’s costs, the plan’s benefits and coverage rules and the plan’s formulary (the list of prescriptions that a plan covers). Seniors should ensure that their drugs will still be covered and that their providers and pharmacies are still in the plan’s network.
Beneficiaries can also contact plans directly to learn about the services they cover or to enroll. It is important to get everything in writing before making a final decision. Also before joining, beneficiaries should confirm with their doctors that they are in the provider network for the plan.
Still have questions?
Check out the full blog post about Open Enrollment on the SHIP website. There, you can find out how to contact your local SHIP program, which offers unbiased Medicare counseling at no cost to you.
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