Did you know that Medicare has a annual open enrollment period? The open enrollment period is October 15th through December 15th. For whatever reason, many seniors are not even aware of this open enrollment period. If you are like most seniors who are not aware or the Medicare open enrollment period, you are truly missing out. You see, during an open enrollment period, you have the opportunity to change your current health care coverage. Therefore, you have the opportunity to weigh all of your Medicare options. Perhaps during an open enrollment period you will be able to find a Medicare option that includes more coverage for a lesser price. This is exactly why it is so important to use this open enrollment period efficiently before it comes and goes and you are left with the same exact plan that you may not be happy with.
Even if you are happy with your current Medicare plan, it still does not hurt to weigh all of your options. After all, you may even be able to find the same exact plan for an even lesser price. Not to mention the fact that during this Medicare open enrollment period, you will be able to view changes coming the next coming year. For example, if you are currently enrolled with original Medicare (which is a combination of Medicare Part A hospitalization insurance and Medicare Part B medical insurance) and pay addition money for Medicare Part D prescription drug coverage, it may be beneficial for you to make sure that your important medications are still covered under your current plan. Why? Well, this will help you avoid having to pay more money for these prescription drugs.
Also, regarding Medicare Advantage Plans with private HMO’s or PPO’s, you may want to use the Medicare open enrollment period to see if your current Medicare Advantage Plan is still the best Medicare Advantage Plan option for you. Usually Medicare Advantage plans offer extra coverage like: Medicare Part D prescription drug coverage, dental care and vision. However, these benefits are subject to change from year to year. With that being said, you may want to view all of the new changes during the open enrollment period. During the open enrollment period, you may want to pay special attention to the monthly premium in addition to the doctors and hospitals on that plan. You see, may Medicare Advantage Plans are networks plans. This means that you have to go to certain doctors and hospitals in your plans networks for you to be covered. Especially as seniors, it is important to have a good relationship with our doctors. It is even more important to feel comfortable around your doctor. So, once you find a doctor that you like, feel comfortable with, and have a good relationship with, you probably don’t want to lose it. Because all benefits including your current doctors and hospitals are subject to change year to year, it is important to be aware of these particular changes before it is too late. So, if you are one of those seniors who are 100 percent happy with your current Medicare Plan, keep in mind that it may be still beneficial for you to check out the new changes to your plan coming during the new year.
Open Enrollment and Medicare Continued
The Medicare open enrollment period can be very beneficial if you use the open enrollment period wisely. You see, this open enrollment period allows seniors with Medicare to choose the Medicare plan that be services their health needs in addition to providing them with the greatest value If you are weighing out your Medicare options during the enrollment period, you should not just look soley into different plan’s premiums and cost sharing, but also into plan’s benefits and the quality of care that comes with that particular plan. In 2012, it was found that plan’s premiums and costs have remained stable, but what has not remained stable are the benefits. You see, as time continues, many companies and plans offer more and more benefits.
For example, Original Medicare (Medicare Part A and Medicare Part B), has a benefit package that is stronger than even. In fact, the original Medicare benefit package even provides beneficiaries with greater value. You see, everyone with Medicare has access to a variety of prevention services and screenings. In many cases, these preventative services are free of charge when offered by participating health care professionals. These preventative services includes services like: diabetes screenings, cancer screenings, and a yearly ‘wellness’ visit. In addition to these benefits, did you know that during the first nine months of the year 2012, over 20 million seniors enrolled with Original Medicare received at least one preventative service at not extra cost?
This open enrollment period is not only about original Medicare. Medicare beneficiaries are also able to explore their options beyond Original Medicare during the open enrollment period. There are many other plans available to seniors. Many of these plans include: Medicare Advantage Plans, Medicare Part D prescription Drug Plans, and Medicare supplemental insurance Plans. Regarding Medicare supplemental insurance plans, there are ten addition plans that you have access to. Many of these plans which were mentioned above offer tons of additional benefits beyond the Original Medicare package. For example, a Medicare Advantage Plan offers additional coverage for: vision, hearing, dental coverage, or even extended coverage while you travel. Not to mention, many Medicare Advantage Plans also include Medicare Part D prescription drug coverage as well.
Open Enrollment and Medicare.gov
However, when it comes down to it only you know what extra benefits and services are most important for you. This is why it is so very important to do some shopping around for Medicare insurance on your own during the Medicare open enrollment period. You can use the open enrollment period to decide what benefits are most important when it comes to helping you meet your unique health care needs. In fact, Medicare.gov even offers a Medicare Plan finder free of charge. The Medicare Plan Find will allow you to view all of the health and drug plan options in your specific location. Using this plan will help you find a plan that will provide you with the greatest value. If you are looking for additional help or information, you can always call 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227).
Open Enrollment and Convenience
Most seniors take comfort in things that they are familiar with. Why? Because over time, they become comfortable doing things a certain way. An example of this is the fact that most seniors grocery shop at the same exact supermarket regardless of the fact that other supermarkets actually may be cheaper. Why? Perhaps they like that they know exactly where to find all of the groceries and items that they are looking for or perhaps they just enjoy the customer services there. Regardless of the exact reason, once you feel comfortable with something, it is often hard to change to something new because computability and convenience is a big part of the value. Maybe a even bigger value then saving a few extra dollars. Believe it or not, this is also true when it comes to choosing a Medicare health plan. Although cost, coverage, and benefits play a huge role in choosing a Medicare plan, convenience should be considered as well. So, as you continue to read further, you will read some additional factors you may want to consider as your compare your Medicare options during the Medicare open enrollment period.
Open Enrollment and Doctor and Hospital Choices
As we mentioned earlier, one main factor that you may want to include in your search for Medicare options is the doctor and hospital choices. You see, it is so important for seniors to have a sense of comfort ability around their doctors and hospitals especially when it comes to something private like their health. One major questions that you may want to ask yourself is: “Will your current doctors and hospitals accept your coverage the next coming year?” Furthermore, if you are checking into other plans, you may want to make sure that your are able to continue to go to your current doctors and hospitals. If you are checking into new doctors and hospitals, you may want to search one they are rated, the hours, and location as well.
Open Enrollment and Pharmacy Choices
Like many other benefits, a plans network is subject to change from year to year as well. If you are weighing new Medicare options, you may want ask yourself a few questions like: Is the current pharmacy you use include in your drug plan’s network? If it is important to you to continue with the same pharmacy, you may want to check that that particular pharmacy will still be in your plan’s network. If you are looking into other Medicare options that include new pharmacies that you are not familiar with, you may want to ask a few questions like: Do they prescribe electronically? Can you receive refills by mail? Make sure to check out all of the benefits that comes with choosing a new pharmacy!
Open Enrollment and Travel Choices
Many seniors spend their retirement years traveling. If you are senior who travels a lot or if you spend a significant amount of time in a differently state, you may want to see if your current Medicare plan covers you out of state. Why? Because if you are a traveler, you may want to make sure you know whether your current coverage will travel with you.
Shopping during Open Enrollment
Aside from the Medicare.gov website, there are also tons of different private insurance companies out there offering to give you assistance. Many of these private insurance companies include: 1-800-MEDIGAP, AARP, Humana, and United Healthcare to name a few. Many of those private insurance companies offer plans like: Medicare Advantage Plans, Medicare Part D prescription Drug Plans, and even Medicare supplemental insurance plans. There are ten Medicare supplemental insurance plans out there, each categorized by a letter of the alphabet. These supplements include: A, B, C, D, F, J, K, L, M, and N. With so many plans out there in addition to the plans offered by Medicare, it can be overwhelming finding the best plan that suites your insurance needs. This is exactly why there is so much help out there for you. For instance, many of these top private insurance companies do the comparing for you. That’s right, private insurance companies like 1-800-MEDIGAP, will use personalized information like: your birthday, gender, current health status, and your location to compare all of the plans for you. In fact, you are able to do it online yourself. Simply put in all of the personalized information that the website asks and you will be able to receive tons of free Medicare quotes. If you are a senior looking in the Medicare market and need extra help, you can also call these private insurance companies. For instance, 1-800-MEDIGAP, Humana, AARP, and United Healthcare all have professional agents on call. So if you are looking for Medicare comparisons over the phone, free quotes, or if you just have a few questions, you should not hesitate to call. After all, most private insurance companies number one goal is to excel in customer satisfaction. Keep in mind however, that the very best time to do some shopping around for Medicare plans is during the Medicare open enrollment period. During this time, you will not be penalized for enrolling late, therefore it will save you some money in the long run enrolling during this period instead of doing it outside the open enrollment period. Even if you are happy with your currently plan, you should understand that each plan and what the coverage and benefits is subject to change from year to year. So, what you may love so much about your plan this year, may be changing the following year. So, do your research during the open enrollment period. Why? Because ultimately, it can protect you. For instance, if you were enrolled in a Medicare Advantage Plan that offered network coverage, you may have gotten comfortable with a specific doctor. Did you know that the next year that network coverage could change? Maybe your regular doctor is no longer in that network. What would you do? This is just an example why shopping around, even if you are happy with your current plan, is a good idea.