2017 Medicare Open Enrollment: What You Need to Know

medicare open enrollment

It’s time for Medicare Open Enrollment

From October 15 until December 7, Medicare has their annual Open Enrollment period.

Medicare health and drug plans can change each year: costs, coverage, and providers and pharmacies in their networks. During Open Enrollment, older adults covered by Medicare can choose to change their health plans and prescription drug plans.

 

Make changes when plans no longer cover needs

Even though we all wish we could “set it and forget it” with health insurance, Medicare plans are constantly changing.

So, the plan that covered everything your senior needed this year probably won’t have the same coverage next year. This is especially common with Part D prescription drug plans.

To save money and get the best coverage, review your older adult’s healthcare and drug plans every year. Use the Open Enrollment period to switch to better plans if needed. Taking care of this once-a-year chore can make a big difference in costs.

 

Check for the Annual Notice of Change

In early October, your older adult should have gotten an annual notice from their health insurance company.

The package might be alarmingly thick, but the most important thing to look for is the Annual Notice of Change (ANOC), which should be a thinner booklet. Look at the first few pages of the ANOC to understand the key plan changes for the next year.

 

You DON’T need to make changes if…

Check to see if your senior’s current plans will cover services and prescriptions you know they’ll need next year.

You shouldn’t need to make changes if:

  • Current plans are still being offered
  • Ongoing medical and prescription needs for next year will be covered
  • New medical and prescription needs for next year will be covered
  • Procedures or tests they’ll probably need to have next year will be covered

 

You DO need to make changes if…

When coverage is changing and you’re trying to decide if switching to another plan is a good idea, these key considerations will help you choose.

Premium
Is the plan premium going up? If the increase is 10% or more, there might be a better plan out there.

Deductible
What’s the deductible? If it used to be zero and now it’s not, you might want to think about changing plans.

Prescription drug coverage
Medication that’s not covered is expensive! Paying attention to this could save a lot of money.

It may take some work to figure out changes in drug premiums and tiers and how that will affect what your older adult has to pay out of pocket, but it’s worth the effort.

Part C / Medicare Advantage / Managed Care
Figure out what you paid out in co-pays this year. Were there expenses that weren’t covered? Are those expenses likely to happen again next year? If so, you might consider switching to a Medigap plan with fixed costs.

Medigap
Are you paying for a Medigap plan even though your senior doesn’t have many doctor visits (not counting annual wellness checks and preventive care)? You might want to look into Medicare Advantage plans with lower premiums and other benefits like hearing and vision coverage.

 

Bottom Line

Take some time to review upcoming changes to your older adult’s health insurance coverage. It could save a lot of money. Use these tips to focus on key differences so the task is less overwhelming.

 

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By DailyCaring Editorial Team
Image: Legacy Health Insurance

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