It’s Medicare Annual Open Enrollment Period—Make Sure Your Policy Still Fits
“I think a change would do you good.” —Sheryl Crow
I may not have a lot on common with Sheryl Crow (definitely not the voice), but I like her music, and as an insurance agent/broker thick in the middle of the Medicare Annual Enrollment Period (AEP), I have to agree with the above lyric. It’s what I advise my clients: If you have Medicare Prescription Drug Coverage (Part D), or a Medicare Advantage plan (Part C), a change might do you good!
AEP (Open Enrollment) runs from October 15 through December 7. Here’s why it’s important to look at your options during this time period:
> Plans can change every year: Premiums, copays, formularies and networks (provider and pharmacy) are subject to change. You don’t want to be caught off guard by the changes when January hits, and it’s too late to do anything, when perhaps your expensive prescription isn’t covered anymore.
You should have received an Annual Notice of Change (ANOC) by now that details the changes in your plan. If nothing else, be sure to read it carefully and save it for future reference.
> New plans become available. Two years ago there were five Medicare Advantage plans to choose from. In 2020 we will have about 27! If you haven’t shopped around in a while, you may be surprised to learn there are now Zero-dollar Medicare Advantage plans and some prescription plans start at $13.20. Are you overpaying for coverage?
> Insurance companies can change. Just this year, several companies bought and sold pieces of each other, so some of their available plans have changed. If your current policy is affected, this information is in your Annual Notice of Change.
> This is probably the most important one. Have you had an expensive prescription added? Have you gotten healthier and dropped a bunch of prescriptions? Changed doctors? Received a new diagnosis? Switched pharmacies? Become eligible for Medicaid, Veteran’s benefits, work benefits? All of these factors are covered differently under different plans, so the plan you have may not be the best one for your current needs.
How do you learn about your options? Medicare.gov is a great resource. If you create an account, you can keep track of your prescriptions throughout the year and compare options during Medicare Annual Enrollement Period. You can also use your local insurance broker, preferably one who represents more than one insurance company to increase your options to best fit your needs.
Regardless of how you do it, you’ll need a current accurate list of your prescription medications. Check the policy premium and your estimated prescription costs at your preferred pharmacy. For Advantage plans, also look at the co-pays and co-insurance for your favorite doctors and necessary procedures or office visits. There isn’t one best policy out there that is best for everyone. However, with a little research by you or your insurance agent, you can find the best policy for you. And, that change will be good!