Your mailbox may be filled lately with Medicare information and plan offers. That’s because Medicare Annual Enrollment starts on October 15. It ends on December 7. This is your chance to change your Medicare Part D or Medicare Advantage plan (Part C) for the upcoming year, if you want to.
You might be tempted to toss all the Medicare mail you get in the trash and forget about annual enrollment. You’ve already made your Medicare choices, so you’re all set right? Well, don’t be too hasty.
During the fall, consider viewing Medicare information you receive in the mail and via email as a reminder to carefully review your current coverage, think about what you might need going forward, and ultimately to help guide you to keep your current plan or enroll in a new one.
So, should you make a change during Medicare Annual Enrollment? Here are some tips to help you make that decision.
Read Your Annual Notice of Change
Your Medicare Part D or Medicare Advantage plan will send you an Annual Notice of Change (ANOC). The document will explain plan benefit and cost changes for the upcoming year, if any. Read your ANOC carefully. [Here’s how.]
Some things to look for include:
- Will your monthly premium payment be higher, the same or lower?
- Is your doctor or pharmacy still in the plan network?
- Are your medications still on the plan formulary? In what tiers?
- Are there changes to your deductible, co-pay or co-insurance amounts?
- Are there any other benefit changes that may affect you?
Consider Your Health Care Needs
Some things you can’t predict, but you can plan for the things you know. A recent diagnosis or a planned surgery, for example, may mean you need to see a specialist. Or your doctor may have prescribed a new medication. Changes like these may mean your Medicare plan needs to change, too.
Make a list of all the health care needs you know you may need coverage for including preventative screenings and procedures, routine exams and medications and how often you plan to see a physician or other specialist.
Be Aware of Your Budget
Health care costs may be a big part of your budget. There may be cost increases in your current Medicare plan for next year. If so, think about how comfortable you are with the changes. If it starts to feel like your plan is a tight financial fit, you may want to look at other plans that could offer lower costs or discount programs. You could also check to see if you qualify for help paying for Medicare.
Your current Medicare Part D plan or Medicare Advantage plan will automatically renew for next year if you don’t do anything. The coverage will go into effect on January 1.
Keeping your current plan may work for you. Just remember that you have choices. It could pay to shop around, and if you do decide to enroll in new coverage, be sure to do so before December 7 when annual enrollment ends.