It’s that time of year again: Medicare Open Enrollment. Open enrollment is the one time of year when you can re-evaluate your Medicare health and prescription drug plans and switch to ones that offer better coverage or save you money. By now you should have received your Annual Notice of Change packet of information in the mail. It’s very important to take the time to sit down and review this information to see if you want to make any changes for the upcoming year.
Medicare plans can, and often do, change their costs and benefits every calendar year. If you don’t look at the changes in your plan, you may be unpleasantly surprised by higher health care costs next year—or find out that what you need isn’t covered any more. In addition, many people don’t realize that Medicare health and prescription drug plans’ cost-sharing can vary enormously between plans, even for the exact same drug or service. Some people can save hundreds of dollars just by changing to a different plan. This can be a huge relief if you’re on a fixed monthly income.
We know that high drug costs are forcing some people to choose between the medications they need and paying for food and rent, so making sure that you’re in the right plan is more important than ever. During Medicare Open Enrollment, AARP recommends that you evaluate your current health and prescription drug coverage and consider the “four C’s”:
- Cost: Compare monthly premiums, annual deductibles, copays and coinsurance.
- Coverage: Review the doctors and pharmacies included in the plan, as well as prescription drugs and other services you need.
- Convenience: Look at the accessibility of doctors, pharmacies and services in the plans.
- Customer service: Assess the quality of service a plan provides. Quality ratings are available for most Medicare Advantage Plans and Medicare Part D Prescription Drug Plans at medicare.gov/find-a-plan.
Choosing Medicare health and prescription drug plans can be a challenge, but the good news is that there is a lot of free help available. You can compare plans online using the Medicare Plan Finder at medicare.gov/find-a-plan or speak to a customer service representative by calling Medicare at 800-633-4227. You can also contact your State Health Insurance Assistance Program (800-677-1116) for personalized health insurance counseling at no cost.
Other Helpful Resources
- Medicare Open Enrollment and You: Gives helpful information from AARP to make the most of your Medicare coverage
- AARP Medicare Q & A Tool: Provides easy-to-understand answers about Medicare (available in Spanish at http://bit.ly/1vlSFsD)
- Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services: Provides comprehensive information about Medicare and Medicaid
- State Health Insurance Assistance Program: Offers free personalized health insurance counseling
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- Get Help: Find out if you're eligible for public benefits with Benefits QuickLINK
- Join AARP: savings, resources and news for your well-being
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