Congratulations to the many people who have already taken advantage of this year’s Oct. 15-Dec. 7 Medicare Open Enrollment Period (OEP) by selecting a new health plan for 2014!
If your current coverage isn’t what you need for next year, don’t despair. There is still time to make any changes you want to make. But be careful, because Dec. 7 will be here before you know it.
During Open Enrollment—also called the Annual Election Period (AEP)—you have four key options:
- Sticking with Original Medicare
- Enrolling in a new Medicare Advantage plan
- Enrolling in a new Medicare supplement plan
- Enrolling in a new Medicare Part D prescription drug plan
You are not required to make changes to your current coverage during OEP/AEP, but Open Enrollment is an excellent opportunity to evaluate your current coverage and make desired changes for the new year.
During OEP/AEP, your options include:
- Dropping your current Medicare Advantage plan in order to enroll in another Medicare Advantage plan
- Dropping your Medicare Advantage plan without prescription drug coverage in order to enroll in a Medicare Advantage plan with prescription drug coverage (MA-PD)
- Dropping your current prescription drug plan or switching from one prescription drug plan to another
- Dropping Medicare Advantage, returning to Original Medicare, and enrolling in a Medicare supplement plan and prescription drug plan
People who do not take advantage of the Oct. 15-Dec. 7 Medicare Open Enrollment Period by comparing their current coverage and costs to what the competition has to offer often regret it not long after the new year rolls around. Remember, Open Enrollment is likely your only opportunity to make certain changes to your Medicare coverage until Open Enrollment comes again in a year—and failing to make changes that can save you money from month to month can cost you a small fortune over the course of an entire year.
Now, back to those who have already selected a new plan for 2014 …
How does your new Medicare plan look?
Since you already have experience evaluating your Medicare coverage, why not take the precaution of doing so one more time? There is still enough time before this year’s OEP/AEP ends to confirm that you’ve chosen the plan or plans that will serve you best next year—or to change to a better or more cost-efficient plan if one final evaluation determines there’s a better match for you. There is still time to shop the market for the lowest rates, and there is no limit to the number of changes you can make during OEP/AEP before getting things absolutely right.
Whether you have already enrolled in a new Medicare plan for 2014 or not, it is recommended that you take these three steps during the remainder of this year’s Open Enrollment:
- Compare your current plan—or the plan you have chosen for 2014—to the other plans available in your area. Be a shrewd Medicare Open Enrollment shopper. Check out the various Medicare Advantage plans, Medicare supplement plans, and prescription drug plans to determine which plans available in your area appear to offer the best fit for next year. Perhaps you’ll find a Medicare plan more suited to your circumstances than the plan you have now. Or perhaps, after comparing, you’ll decide that your current choice is still your best option for next year.
- Compare the cost of plans available in your area. Getting the right coverage for next year isn’t just a matter of choosing the plan best suited to your current circumstances. Prices for the very same plan can vary widely from company to company, so failing to compare rates offered by the leading companies in your area can cost you dearly. It can also be costly to assume that, since a company offers the best rate for one plan, it is going to offer the best rates across the board. Look up the rates for individual plans, and avoid potentially-costly assumptions.
- Discuss your Open Enrollment options with a licensed professional. There is no obligation and no cost, but the savings may be substantial. An experienced professional may be your best resource for maximizing coverage and savings, and for confirming either that your plan is an excellent choice for 2014 or that it may be wise to reconsider your choice before Open Enrollment is over.
If you’ve been hesitant to try enrolling in a Medicare plan because of all the Obamacare enrollment problems, there is no need to worry. Problems associated with Obamacare enrollment and the healthcare exchange have nothing to do with Medicare, and no government agency is involved in Medicare plan enrollment or sales—so do not wait to take advantage of your Medicare Open Enrollment options!
If you’ve already selected a Medicare plan for next year during this year’s Oct. 15-Dec. 7 Medicare Open Enrollment Period, how does your new Medicare plan look? Leave a comment below!
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