Many people 65 and older rely on Medicare as their primary source of health insurance. But did you know, that if you're on Medicare you should be reviewing your benefits every year? From October 15th - December 7th is Medicare open enrollment this year to review your plan and make changes if needed. Last year we hosted a webinar with Peter Gosselin of Gosselin Insurance to discuss many aspects of the open enrollment process, and you can watch the full webinar below. Here are some additional considerations of why you should review your Medicare plan as well.
What is Medicare open enrollment?
Medicare open enrollment is a time where you are allowed to enroll in Medicare benefits, if eligible. Generally, it is a 7-month period 3 months before and 3 months after your 65th birthday. During this time, you can enroll in the standard parts A and B, the prescription part D, and either a supplemental Medigap policy or Medicare Advantage plan (part C).
However, if you missed enrolling when you originally became eligible, Medicare also has an open enrollment period annually (October 15th - December 7th for 2021) where you can apply. But, if you missed your open enrollment period and you do not qualify for an exception (such as being covered by an employer insurance plan), you may be assessed a late enrollment penalty for life! That's why it's crucial to enroll in Medicare when you become eligible so that you don't find yourself paying a penalty because you missed your time to enroll.
Why you should review your plan
If you're already on Medicare, you don't need the open enrollment period to apply. However, this is a great opportunity to review your current coverage, especially when it comes to prescription drugs. During the annual open enrollment period, you are allowed to change your prescription drug coverage (part D) without a penalty. Why would you want to do that? There are a few reasons why this may be worthwhile:
The prescription drugs you take have changed: If the drugs you take have changed your current part D plan may not cover them. Meaning, to get the drugs you need you'll be paying for them out of pocket. If you have new prescriptions, it's crucial to check your plan during this time and switch if needed.
Check the cost of your plan: The cost of the prescription drug plans will change every year. If there is a less expensive plan, that still covers the drugs you take, it's usually beneficial to change your plan the less costly one where you are still covered.
Check that your prescription drugs are still covered: Another important consideration is to make sure that your current plan still covers the drugs you take. It's not a good idea to assume that because your prescription was covered by your plan last year that it will still be covered in the coming one. It's better to be safe than sorry and just double check your plan during the open enrollment period. If your prescription is no longer covered, you can switch plans during this time to one that does cover it.
To check your plan, and review your other options, you can visit the Medicare find a plan page by following this link. You'll have to register in order to use the tool, but once registered, you can review your different Part D plan options.
Medicare open enrollment is a great time to review your current plan coverage and make adjustments if needed. Medicare can be complex, and ensuring you're covered, and at the right time, can be essential to avoiding any lifetime penalties for enrolling late! For more information about open enrollment, and Medicare in general, please watch the full webinar, or reach out to our financial planning team.