Your Complete Guide To Medicare Open Enrollment

Medicare Open Enrollment is the time someone can sign up for Medicare, or make a switch to another plan. Insurance companies can make changes to its Medicare plan every year to things such as drug costs, monthly premiums, and what providers and pharmacies are in their network. These changes affect how much money you will pay out of pocket. In order to save money and receive the best care for your needs, it is important to review changes to determine whether you want to keep that plan or switch to another.

When is Open Enrollment?

Medicare Open Enrollment occurs annually in the fall, from October 15 to December 7. If you enroll during the Open Enrollment Period in a new Medicare Advantage plan or Part D prescription drug plan, the coverage will begin January 1, 2018.

What can you do during Open Enrollment?

  •         You can switch to Original Medicare Parts A and B with or without a Part D plan from a Medicare Advantage Plan during this time, or vice versa.
  •         You can switch from one Medicare Advantage plan to another.
  •         You can switch from one Medicare Part D plan to another.
  •         If you did not enroll in a Medicare Part D plan when you were first eligible, you can do so during open enrollment, although a late enrollment penalty may apply.

Some Rules to Know

  1. If you did not sign up for Medicare Parts A and B when you were first eligible, there is a time each year from January 1 to March 31 that you can sign up, with coverage effective July 1.
  •         There is a penalty got enrolling late:  For Medicare Part B, the penalty is an additional 10 percent of the premium for each 12 month period that you were eligible but not enrolled.
  1.   If you want to enroll in a Medicare Advantage Plan, there are some criteria you must meet:
  •         You must be enrolled in Medicare Parts A and B.
  •         You must live in the service area of the plan.
  •         You cannot have End-Stage Renal Disease (some exceptions apply)..
  1.   If you are enrolled in a Medicare Advantage plan, between January 1 and February 14, you can leave your plan and return to original Medicare. You cannot switch to another Advantage plan unless you meet the requirements of a Special Enrollment Period. After leaving your plan, you have until February 14 to enroll in a Part D plan which will begin the first day of the following month after you enroll.

Things to Consider

Make sure you have the best plan for your needs– When it is time to re-evaluate your Medicare plan, you should look through your Medicare & You handbook, “Evidence of Coverage” (EOC) and “Annual Notice of Change” (ANOC) to review your costs and benefits for the following year. If you are content with your Part D and Medicare Advantage plan, then you can keep it and it will automatically renew for the following year. If your plan is not eligible for renewal due to being discounted, then you will be notified with a non-renewal notice from your insurance company prior to open enrollment.

You can save money and get better drug coverage– You might want to take a closer look at your Medicare Advantage or Part D plan and make sure it is in network with your doctors, hospital and pharmacy. You should make sure your current plan is providing you with the best option and the lowest out of pocket expense. Research shows that the average consumer can annually save $300 or more if they review their Part D coverage. By shopping around for other plans, you can find one in your area with fewer restrictions and lower costs.

Many times, a plan’s coverage will change from one year to the next. So if you picked a plan last year because it was the best option for you, it is very important you confirm that it is again the best option before you renew it for another year. To make sure that your current plan is the best option for you financially and medically, it is important to check any changes made to your Medicare plan, and understand how they affect you.  

If you need help reviewing your plan options before Open Enrollment is over, EZ.Insure can help. At EZ.Insure we will pair you one on one with one of our highly trained agents in your area. We will help you choose the best plan available for you, and answer any questions you may have. No hassle, no obligation, and no charge.  You can’t find a better deal! Whenever you are ready to start saving, contact us by email at Replies@ez.insure or call 855-220-1144.

About The Author: Cassandra Love

With over a decade of helpful content experience Cassandra has dedicated her career to making sure people have access to relevant, easy to understand, and valuable information. After realizing a huge knowledge gap Cassandra spent years researching and working with health insurance companies to create accessible guides and articles to walk anyone through every aspect of the insurance process.
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