American Hope Resources - Help & Assistance Programs

Should You Make Any Changes During Medicare Open Enrollment?

With Medicare’s annual open enrollment period making the news, you may be wondering if you should make any moves. Here are three situations where changing your coverage could make sense.

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Should you play it safe during open enrollment and let your Medicare coverage renew automatically, or should you shop around? That’s a question many Medicare beneficiaries are asking themselves right now. If you’re one of them, you have until December 7, 2019, to discover the answer, as that’s when open enrollment ends.

How can you determine if you should use open enrollment to optimize your coverage? Have a look at these three situations. If any seem familiar, now might be the time to shop for savings and a better plan. If they don’t, you should still review your policy annually to make sure everything is in order and you aren’t overpaying.

1. Your prescriptions have changed.

A single prescription could negatively impact your ability to pay the bills. For this reason, you want to make sure your Medicare Part D plan is up to snuff, especially if you’ve started taking a new medication or will need to soon.

Drug plans can change all the time too. What was once covered by your policy may not be covered anymore, and such changes can be hard to keep track of. Thankfully, the Plan Finder tool from Medicare.gov can help you figure out which coverage fits you best.

Use the Plan Finder tool to input all of your medications so you can compare costs. It will also show you preferred pharmacies in your area that can offer savings, plus star ratings for plans.

With all of this information at your disposal, it will be much easier to pick the right plan to keep you covered in 2020.

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2. Your providers are no longer in-network.

Going to the same doctor provides peace of mind. You become familiar with them, and they get to know you on a first-name basis. If your doctor is no longer included in your plan’s network, it may be time to shop for better coverage.

Beyond the comfort and convenience of using the same provider, there’s also the cost aspect. A local doctor in your network can be less costly than one who is out of network. Review your plan carefully to look for any such changes, as they could make 2020 an expensive year for medical care if you don’t.

Medicare Advantage beneficiaries tend to face this issue due to a limited provider network. Luckily, the open enrollment period allows for the transition from one Medicare Advantage plan to another that may have more ideal network options.

3. You find Original Medicare to be too costly.

You can use the open enrollment period to switch from Original Medicare (Parts A and B) to Medicare Advantage (Part C). Why would you make such a move? To cut costs, as Advantage enrollees typically pay less than those on Original plans.

Before moving from Original Medicare to Advantage, know that limitations could cut into any savings.

As mentioned, Advantage plans sometimes offer limited networks. Use the Plan Finder to ensure Medicare Advantage is optimal for your area. If not, you might be better served sticking with your Original Medicare plan.

Eric Tomasso