Medicare plans and options can be complicated to figure out since it is very different from traditional healthcare choices. During Medicare Open Enrollment, you have the opportunity to learn more about supplemental Medicare plan options to help cover original Medicare costs and can enroll at this time. Since open enrollment is right around the corner, here is everything you need to know about this enrollment period.
What is Medicare Open Enrollment?
Medicare Open Enrollment is a period that spans October 15 through December 7. During this time, you are able to make changes or add Medicare supplemental plans including Medigap, Part ,D and Part C. Many people use this time to learn about plan options to see if they can get a better price, add a new plan to help cover original Medicare costs, or to drop or change plans.
What can I do during open enrollment?
The Open Enrollment Period (OEP) is only available to make changes or add Medicare Part D, Medigap, or Medicare Advantage, also known as Part C. You also must be enrolled in original Medicare before you can use OEP to add additional coverage options. You cannot use open enrollment to initially join original Medicare Parts A or B during this time. Original Medicare should be enrolled in during the Initial Enrollment Period (IEP) which spans three months before your 65th birthday, the month of your birthday, and the three months after. There are special circumstances where you can enroll in original Medicare outside of the IEP, but you may receive a penalty. The Medicare professional you work with during open enrollment will be able to guide you to the best option.
What is Medicare Part D?
Medicare Part D helps cover the cost of prescription drug plans that are not covered by Medicare Part A and Part B. While each plan is different, in general plans with a deductible require you to pay the total amount of the cost of the prescription medication before going through drug coverage stages. When you do not enroll for Medicare Part D either during your IEP or during Medicare Open Enrollment, then you may see a higher premium later on.
What is Medigap?
Medigap, also known as Medicare Supplement, go hand-in-hand with Medicare Part D. When enrolling in Part D, it is a good idea to look at Medigap as well since it helps cover out-of-pocket costs that A & B lack. Medigap also helps provide coverage for people with detrimental diseases, like end-stage renal disease, that other Medicare programs do not cover. There are 10 different Medigap plans available, each with its own coverage. Some of these plans may not be available in your state, so speak with your Medicare insurance professional for guidance.
What is Medicare Part C?
Medicare Part C, also known as Medicare Advantage, helps cover out of pocket costs not covered by Parts A and B as well as prescription drug costs and additional benefits. In general, the coverage includes hospital costs, doctor visits, routine wellness services, and more. Part C is a good alternative to original Medicare because it combines Parts A and B and provides additional coverage, such as prescription drug coverage.
Why should I add or change my Medicare plans during open enrollment?
Health insurance coverage, including Medicare coverage, is ever-changing. The plans you are currently enrolled in may be changing their coverage options, rising in price, or excluding the doctor you have seen for years. During Medicare open enrollment, you will be able to evaluate the changes in your current plan and decide if you want to stick with it. You also may want to find a cheaper option or something with more coverage. If you are considering adding supplemental Medicare plans to help with Parts A and B costs, this is the only time you can do so without facing penalty later.
Is there any other time I can change my Medicare supplemental plans?
Like we mentioned above, you can change your Medicare supplemental plans after OEP if you are within the IEP window. For example, if you turn 65 in January, then you will have December, January, February, March, or April to decide on supplemental insurance plans. If you do wait where you are not in your IEP or in OEP, you could be denied coverage or face a penalty. There are only two exceptions to enroll in Medicare outside of the IEP and OEP. The first is if you retire and leave a healthcare plan from your employer or union. The second is if you move out of your current health plan’s coverage area.