By Keith Armbrecht
You have eight weeks to change your coverage
Open sesame? No, that opens the cave where the treasure is hidden in One Thousand and One Nights.
We are talking about open enrollment for Medicare. It may not be as exciting as hidden treasure, but it’s just about as valuable. It gives you decision-making power over your healthcare coverage.
Open enrollment is the only time during the year when you can update or alter your Medicare coverage. Open enrollment has nothing to do with signing up for Medicare. That is your Initial Enrollment Period. Open enrollment is your adjustment period.
Open enrollment is the time when people who are already receiving Medicare benefits can change their minds and change their coverage.
Why would you want to change your coverage? There are a number of reasons:
- Your insurance may not offer your particular plan any more.
- There may be different benefits included in your program next year.
- Specific drugs might be dropped – or added.
- Your health may have changed, meaning that you need different treatment or drugs.
- Your plan may not sufficiently cover wellness, clinical or chronic care needs.
- You may just want to check out competitive plans.
Open your mail
The keys to knowing your options? Read the ANNUAL NOTICE OF CHANGE which will be in your mailbox in late September. Contact me to discuss your options.
Of course, the government has an acronym for this: OEP, meaning Open Enrollment Period. The period starts on Sunday, October 15th and ends on Thursday, December 7th at midnight.
What are some of the changes you might make during your OEP? You might switch:
- From Medicare to Medicare Advantage – or vice versa.
- From a particular stand-alone Part D to another.
- From a Medicare Advantage plan that doesn’t offer a drug plan to one that does – or vice versa.
- From Medicare drug coverage to none.
If you do choose to switch, your present coverage will continue until December 31 and your new coverage will start January 1, 2018.
As always with Medicare, there are a couple of caveats. You cannot initiate Part B coverage during OEP. If you are in a chronic care facility or have been diagnosed with End Stage Renal Disease, you are not able to switch to a Medicare Advantage plan. If you want to switch from Medicare Advantage to Medigap, you will need to fill out a medical questionnaire.
If you don’t want to change, don’t do anything. Your present medical care plan may be okay for the new year. But, don’t sit back and do nothing. Read the Annual Notice of Change to guarantee that you are not going to run into any issues in the coming year. If everything is fine, sit back and breathe easily. If you do want to change something, do it before midnight on December 7th.
If you would like more information you will find this video very helpful:
Make sure that 2018 is a happy and healthy new year!
Keith Armbrecht is the founder of Medicare on Video and has more than 20 years of experience handling insurance cases, building relationships with seniors and bringing clarity to confused clientele. Keith created Medicare On Video, to help seniors receive direct, clear assistance made simple to understand.