Medicare Open Enrollment Begins October 15: What You Need to Know
Michael Baum, CFP® RICP®
Vice President & Associate Financial Advisor
Medicare’s open enrollment period happens once a year between October 15th and December 7th. During this time, current Medicare beneficiaries have the option to adjust their coverage for the coming year – do you know if you’d benefit from making any adjustments?
Here’s how to know what adjustments you might want to make, and how to make them.
1. Understand If You’re Eligible To Enroll and Make Changes
It is important to remember that Medicare’s Open Enrollment Period is only for those who are already existing Medicare beneficiaries. If you have yet to sign up for Medicare, your period to do so runs between the three months before and three months after you turn 65. If you miss this initial enrollment period, you cannot sign up for Medicare during the open enrollment period beginning in October. Instead, you must wait until Medicare’s general enrollment period, which runs from January 1st through March 31st. Furthermore, the changes you elect to make during Medicare’s open enrollment period will not go into effect until January 1, 2023.
2. Review What Your Current Plan Covers
Each year, you should receive information from the government regarding your current Medicare coverage and other options available to you. Even if your coverage hasn’t changed within the last few years, it’s important to still take time to review your current coverage and identify any areas for improvement.
3. Think About Any Recent Changes In Your Health
While reviewing your current coverage, think about any changes in your health or your life over the last year. Might they result in greater healthcare expenses in the year to come? If you’ve recently changed or added a medication, discovered that you underutilized your current coverage this year, or found you could use additional benefits due to a specific condition or need, you should see if changing your coverage will accommodate these needs with less out-of-pocket expense.
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4. Know What Changes Can Be Made During Open Enrollment
During the open enrollment period, you are eligible to change your Medicare coverage, and you also have the option to switch between different Medicare plans. If you determine that switching to a new plan would be best, you can use Medicare’s online Plan Finder tool at medicare.gov or call 1-800-MEDICARE to find out about new Advantage plans in your area.
You may also want to consider adding, dropping, or adjusting the following key coverage options depending on your needs for the new year:
Medigap Coverage is a supplemental insurance policy designed to help cover the costs of certain medical expenses that Medicare doesn’t cover, such as copayments, coinsurance, deductibles and medical care when traveling abroad. Whether you’ve had Medigap coverage in the past or you’d find it beneficial moving forward, you can adjust, add or drop your Medigap coverage during open enrollment.
Medicare Advantage (or Part C) is a type of healthcare plan offered by private companies contracted through Medicare. It’s designed to combine Part A (hospital insurance) and Part B (medical insurance) as well as, in some instances, a prescription drug plan or other additional coverage. During open enrollment, you can choose to switch from an original Medicare plan to back to a Medicare Advantage plan, or you can switch back to an original plan from an Advantage plan if you found it did not fit your needs. Just be sure to shop around for different options if you’re switching to a Medicare Advantage plan, as you’ll have several choices from various providers to consider.
Medicare Part D is a prescription drug plan. If you’re utilizing a Medicare Advantage plan, this may not apply to you. But for those who have an original Medicare plan, it’s important to check for changes to your Part D coverage every year. Coverage through your plan can change yearly, and your prescription needs may change as well. Make sure your current plan has your needs covered through the next year. If not, now’s the time to look around for new coverage.
5. Consider Your Insurance Needs and Costs in The Context Of Your Overall Finances
Medical expenses can add up quickly and are often one of the largest expenses we all must plan for as we age. Ensuring you have the best coverage possible, and the means to get the care you want, is critical. If you'd like help in crafting a financial plan that will help to set your mind at ease, contact us and see how our strategic Plan Well, Invest Well, Live Well process can help.
Presented by Vice President, Associate Financial Advisor Michael Baum, CFP®, RICP®. Securities and advisory services offered through Commonwealth Financial Network®, Member FINRA/SIPC, a Registered Investment Adviser. 697 Pomfret Street, Pomfret Center, CT 06259, 860.928.2341. http://www.whzwealth.com These materials are general in nature and do not address your specific situation. For your specific investment needs, please discuss your individual circumstances with your financial advisor. Weiss, Hale & Zahansky Strategic Wealth Advisors does not provide tax or legal advice, and nothing in the accompanying pages should be construed as specific tax or legal advice.