If you haven’t enrolled in a Medicare Advantage plan or a Prescription Drug Part D plan for 2016, now is the time. The Medicare Open Enrollment period runs through December 7, so there are only a few days left.
Why is Medicare Open Enrollment such a crucial time for your health care?
Your health care needs can change from year to year, and you want coverage that meets those changing needs. Medicare Advantage and drug plans can also change every year, with variations in cost, coverage, and which providers and pharmacies are included in their networks. And keep in mind, not all health care is created equal. The doctors, hospitals, and other medical facilities you choose can have an impact on your health too.
So open enrollment is an important opportunity to review your current plan, consider your future coverage needs, compare your options, and choose the Medicare plans that meet your needs. Those decisions can have a dramatic impact on your health care over the next year.
How do you get started?
Medicare can be confusing, and the number of Medicare Supplement, Part C and Part D plans available can be overwhelming. You can get original Medicare + a supplemental plan (plans that cover “gaps” in traditional Medicare) or a Medicare Advantage Plan (like an HMO or PPO).
Confused? Fortunately, there’s no shortage of resources available to help. Call 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227) or visit Medicare.gov to get started. The Medicare Plan Finder makes it easy to compare plans based on factors that are important to you, so you can pick a plan that meets your needs. And HealthMarkets.com offers a free service searching thousands of plans from companies across the country to find the coverage that’s right for you.
Do you know what kind of coverage you have?
To check your current coverage, look at your red, white, and blue Medicare card and any other insurance cards you use, and call the phone numbers on the cards. To check your Medicare health or drug plan enrollment, call 1-800-MEDICARE. If you have other health insurance, you need to know how that coverage works with Medicare.
How do you know if you need to change plans?
Even if you think you’re happy with your current plan, you should always review the materials your plan sends you such as the “Evidence of Coverage” (EOC) and “Annual Notice of Change” (ANOC). If your plan has changed, you’ll want to make sure it will still meet your needs.
What about the cost?
You naturally want to save money, but the cheapest health plan might not be the best option. Consider things such as the cost of premiums and deductibles, how much you’re paying for hospital stays and doctor visits, and how important it is for you to have your expenses balanced throughout the year. Here’s a glance at Medicare costs for 2016 compared to 2015.
Medicare and the Affordable Care Act (ACA)
Thanks to the ACA, you have better choices and more benefits under Medicare than ever, such as:
- A discount of 55% on covered brand name drugs if you hit the Part D prescription drug coverage gap (“donut hole”)
- A free annual wellness visit so you can discuss your health concerns with your doctor
- Preventive tests and screenings, including cancer screenings, most at no cost
Make sure you’re covered
If you haven’t already signed up, don’t delay on these crucial decisions any longer. If you miss this open enrollment, you may have to wait another year to enroll. If you have questions about getting started, contact us at Higginbotham Insurance.