Medicare Open Enrollment runs from October 15 through December 7 and is the perfect opportunity to review your Medicare plan coverage for 2018. AARP is encouraging everyone with Medicare coverage to compare their health and prescription drug plan options during the seven weeks of Medicare Open Enrollment.
“Medicare Open Enrollment is your once-a-year opportunity to compare plans to find one that best meets your needs at a price that’s right for you,” said Lina Walker, PhD, Vice President in AARP Public Policy Institute. “Medicare health and prescription drug cost-sharing can vary widely between plans for the same drug or service, so it’s smart to look at your options each year and switch if necessary.”
Medicare plans often change their cost-sharing and coverage benefits every year. Insurers are required to notify all their enrollees of any plan changes for the coming year before the end of September by sending them an Annual Notice of Change. AARP strongly recommends that people read these notices carefully, compare their current plan with other available plans, and change to a different plan during open enrollment if it better meets their current needs.
“Out-of-pocket costs for prescription medications are going up for many because of rising drug prices,” said Jane Sung, Senior Strategic Policy Advisor in AARP Public Policy Institute. “Medicare plans change their formularies each year and some drugs get moved to higher-cost tiers, which mean increased costs. It’s worth the effort to compare plans each year.”
Things to Know About Medicare Open Enrollment
Changes You Can Make
Changes you can make during open enrollment:
- Switch from traditional Medicare to a Medicare Advantage plan, or vice versa
- Switch from one Medicare Advantage plan to another
- Switch from one stand-alone Medicare Part D prescription drug plan to another
- Drop Medicare Part D prescription drug coverage
- Join a Medicare Prescription Drug Plan if you didn’t sign up when you were first eligible
Consider the “Four C’s”
Consider the “Four C’s” when reviewing Medicare plan options:
- Cost – Compare monthly premiums, annual deductibles, co-pays, and co-insurance.
- Coverage – Review the doctors and pharmacies included in the plan, as well as prescription drugs and other services you need.
- Convenience – Look at the local doctors, pharmacies, and services included in the plans.
- Customer Service – Consider the quality of service a plan provides. Quality ratings for most Medicare Advantage and Medicare Part D prescription drug plans are available at www.medicare.gov/find-a-plan.
Help Is Available
Medicare is complicated and can be confusing but there is free help available in choosing the best Medicare plans during Medicare Open Enrollment:
- Call the Medicare help line at 1-800-633-4227.
- Use Medicare’s plan finder program
- Contact your state health insurance assistance program (SHIP) for personal help.
- AARP Medicare Resource Center
- Medicare for Dummies, 3rd Edition
- Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services