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It’s That Time of Year Again – Medicare Open Enrollment!

October 21, 2019

This year, Medicare holds its Fall Open Enrollment from October 15 through December 7. If you’re like many clients we serve, this can be an overwhelming process. You are bombarded with information from your current Medicare providers and potential new providers. On top of that, you have to review your prescription drug coverage.

Surveys show that most seniors choose not to deal with navigating all the choices and instead continue the same coverage that they have had for several years. However, we believe it is helpful to review your coverage each year to ensure that your healthcare needs are still being met.

Here are some of the changes you can make during this time:

  1. Change from Original Medicare (Part A and B) to a Medicare Advantage Plan (Part C)
  2. Change from a Medicare Advantage Plan back to Original Medicare
  3. Switch from one Medicare Advantage Plan to another Medicare Advantage Plan
  4. Join or drop a Medicare Prescription Drug Plan (Part D)
  5. Switch from one Medicare Prescription Drug Plan to another Medicare Prescription Drug Plan
  6. Change from a Medicare Advantage plan that offers prescription drug coverage to one that does not, or vice versa

Your Medicare choices are made on an individual basis, so married couples can, and often do, select different options. Here are brief overviews of Medicare options:

Original Medicare
Original Medicare allows you to choose any doctor who accepts Medicare.

If you currently receive your healthcare through Original Medicare, you may have a Medicare Supplement Insurance plan (Medigap). Medigap is sold by private companies and is often recommended for Original Medicare participants as it can help pay some of the out-of-pocket expenses such as co-pays, coinsurance, and deductibles (designated as Plan A through Plan N).

If you have Medigap, open enrollment is a good time to evaluate if it still meets your needs. If not, you can click here to find plans offered in your area.

Medicare Advantage Plan
Different from Original Medicare, the Medicare Advantage Plan is offered through a private insurer with specific care providers. Also, please note that you cannot have both a Medigap Policy and a Medicare Advantage Plan.

If you currently receive your healthcare through the Medicare Advantage Plan, you should evaluate whether the premiums, deductibles, and co-pays are still acceptable. Are you still comfortable with the restrictions/approval process required and doctor choices available to you? Do they still meet your needs? If you want to switch to a different Medicare Advantage Plan, join the plan of your choosing and you will be disenrolled automatically from your old plan when your new plan’s coverage begins.

As you assess your plans, it is important to keep in mind that your current health status could affect your premiums if you decide to switch between Medigap and Medicare Advantage Plans. If you decide later to switch back to a Medigap policy, your health status could disqualify you from getting coverage again. To compare Medicare Advantage Plans in your area, click here. This is a new website for the 2020 plan year, so you will need to establish a new account requiring a new username and password.

Prescription Drug Plan
Each year, companies can change their formularies, preferred pharmacies, and co-pays. A careful review of your current plan, along with your current medication and a comparison of other plans offered in your area, can save you money. You can compare prescription drug plans in your area here.

For more information on Medicare’s Open Enrollment, visit the Medicare website here. Also, you can get personalized health insurance advice at no cost to you from your local State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP). Click here and select “SHIP Locator” in the middle of the page to access your particular state.

At Ronald Blue Trust, we understand that Medicare comes with complex rules and can be overwhelming. It is important, though, to fully understand what makes the most sense for your particular healthcare situation. If you would like to discuss this further, please contact your Ronald Blue Trust advisor, call 800.987.2987, or email [email protected].

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This content has been updated since its original posting on October 10, 2016.

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