Every year, Medicare's Open Enrollment Period comes from Oct. 15 through Dec. 7. This is your big opportunity to make a shift from the Medicare plan that you already have to one that suits your needs better.
Each insurance company wants a slice of the pie, which means the advertisements and promotions will swarm your mailbox. The urge is to throw all that paper into the garbage and preserve the plan you have. The best idea could not always be. To get a better offer, you may want to take the time to wade through the detail.
Here are the most common errors individuals make and how to prevent them during Medicare Open Enrollment.
Based on feedback from people they meet, many individuals sign up for a particular health plan. Maybe you had a positive experience with a proposal from a friend or neighbor or even your spouse. Based on its brand name and popularity, some individuals can choose a plan. Although this should bode well for good customer service and coverage advantages, do not let these guidelines make the decision for you in and of themselves.
For you, your well-being is special. Your medical history is not discussed by others. They may not be on or use the same doctors on the same medications. Your medical conditions will vary from your friends and family in this respect. First, you need to find a strategy customized for your particular situation.
TIP: Suggestions from family and friends will help you decide between plans, but mainly ensure that those plans fulfill your personal needs.
Your Medicare Advantage or Medicare Part D plan will send out an Annual Notice of Adjustment at the end of every year. This paper explains what improvements are coming with regard to costs and coverage in the new year.
Deductibles, premiums, coinsurance, and copayments are not cheap and when the new plan kicks in, price hikes could surprise you when the first day of the year arrives. It will cost you much more in out of pocket costs to lose coverage for programs or drugs you use on a daily basis.
TIP: To make sure you can afford the new plan in the coming year and to ensure that you are compensated for the health insurance you need, read your Annual Notice of Adjustment every year.
Also Read: Guide: Medicare Advantage 101
If you don't take drugs, the default response is not to buy prescription drug coverage for a Medicare Part D plan. For something you don't need, why would you pay monthly premiums? And when you actually sign up, you could face a lifetime of late penalties from Part D.
As in other aspects of existence, an exception occurs. You should wait to sign up for a Medicare Part D plan without facing penalties if you have credible prescription coverage from another source like an employer-sponsored insurance plan, Indian Health Service, All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly Program, TRICARE, or Veteran's Health benefits. Creditable coverage suggests that the coverage of medications is as high as that of Medicare. If they follow this requirement, the other health plans must contact you so that you can make an informed decision about signing up for Part D.
TIP: If you do not take prescription drugs and do not have credible coverage from another insurance plan, select the lowest rate Part D plan so that you get coverage at the lowest cost.
You might think you've got the perfect plan already. In the previous year, it met all of your health needs and it came at a fair cost. It offered satisfactory customer service as well. Does that mean the best idea for you in the new year is going to be this? Not necessarily, however.
Insurance firms have the aim of delivering affordable health insurance, but their primary purpose in a capitalist society is to turn a profit. Insurers are competing with each other in the market with dollars and cents running the show, and this could work to your advantage. The fact is that there may be many plans that may fulfill your needs. Take the time and see how they compare expenses and choose the one that saves the most money for you.
Medicare Advantage and Part D policies operate on local networks, unlike Original Medicare, which operates the same anywhere in the country. That means that inside that network, you can either use healthcare providers or you will pay out of pocket for their visits. Those costs will easily add up.
At any time, networks can shift. This implies that a Medicare plan may drop a provider from its network, not because the provider has any problems, but because there is disagreement about contractual requirements. You will want to pick a package that includes the doctor in your network if you want to save money and retain the doctors you know and trust, or if there is a doctor that you want to go to that is not in your current network.
TIP: Select a package that has a network of all your healthcare providers.
The biggest mistake individuals make is not making a shift during Medicare's Open Enrollment. So many individuals, without further investigation, take the path of least resistance and maintain their current plans. To see if you can get better care at a reasonable price is still worth a closer look.
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