The calls are coming in. The commercials are on every channel. The mail is stacking up at your doorstep. Make no mistake, Medicare Annual Enrollment is here. But why are companies so aggressive during this time? And what can you do about your Medicare plans?
What Is Medicare Annual Enrollment?
Medicare Annual Enrollment is from October 15th to December 7th. During this period, you can reassess your Medicare coverage and potentially switch to something more suited to your health needs. This is why companies seek you out during this time; they are trying to get you to switch to a new plan. We will talk about a few different situations you may face during Medicare Annual Enrollment:
1. I Have A Medicare Advantage Plan:
If you are currently in a Medicare Advantage Plan (or MAPD for short) you can switch into a new one, no questions asked! If your doctors have left your current network or you want to explore better benefits, this is your chance. Each year companies offer new benefits and perks, and often lower copays. Simply contact us between October 15th to December 7th to schedule an appoint. Once enrolled your new plan will start on January 1st of the following year.
You can also attempt to go back onto Original Medicare if you are unhappy with the Medicare Advantage system. To remove your Medicare Advantage coverage, all you need to do is sign up for a Standalone Prescription Drug Plan (or PDP). You are not legally allowed to have both an MAPD and PDP, so signing up for the PDP will automatically disenroll you from your Medicare Advantage Plan on January 1st of the following year. If you decide to go this route, you need to have a Medicare Supplement ready for when you leave your MAPD. Getting accepted to a supplement is dependent on health questions, so make sure you have been accepted to a Medicare Supplement before you leave your Medicare Advantage plan.
2. I Am On Original Medicare With A Drug Plan:
This is a wonderful time to re-evaluate your Prescription Drug Plan. There are many variables when it comes to your prescriptions, and they can all change over the course of the year. Your plan may be phased out, you may have added new prescriptions, or a prescription you are taking is now generic. All these factors mean every year you need to evaluate your annual notice of change to understand the changes. If your broker hasn’t educated you on these concepts or isn’t providing you the resources to understand your plan changes, please reach out to us. You can also potentially switch your Medicare Supplement plan as well. Every new year your Medicare Supplement is likely to go up in price. But each company will raise the price at a different rate, leading to discrepancies in costs. Talk to your broker or reach out to us to see if there are better options for you to help keep your monthly premium low. Just know you will have to answer health questions to switch between supplements.
3. I Have A Medicare Supplement But I Want A Medicare Advantage Plan
This is your time to switch over! Sign up with your broker between October 15th to December 7th for a Medicare Advantage Plan. This will automatically disenroll you from your Prescription Drug Plan on January 1st of the following year. Just make sure to let your Medicare Supplement company know you are leaving after you enroll. This way you avoid paying for a plan you are not using.
4. I Need To Switch Dental Or Vision Plans
Vision and Dental benefits are not a part of Original Medicare, so you do not have to sign up for them during Medicare Annual Enrollment. You can sign up or change them at any time of the year. If you have a Medicare Advantage Plan, you are more than likely to have vision and dental benefits. It may make sense to reach out to your broker to make sure these benefits will be the same next year, or double check the market and see if there are better plans to enroll in.
One Final Note
The one thing we can all agree on is that during Medicare Annual Enrollment, you should talk to your broker if you are unhappy with your current plan. Only they will be able to look at your changing health needs and know what is best for you going forward. Schedule an appointment with the brokers at NJ Life & Health to go over your needs going into 2023. Call 848-226-6898 or visit our website at https://www.njlifeandhealth.com/request-an-appointment to schedule your appointment today. If you are satisfied with your current plan, you can ignore all the excess marketing mailers, TV commercials, and phone calls; they will only be trying to switch you away from the plan you are already comfortable with. Just sit back, relax, and stay put!
All information has been taken from Medicare.gov or is based on personal experience. For more information visit Medicare.gov.