CONTRIBUTED CONTENT — The Medicare annual election period is fast approaching, and if the thought of reviewing your Medicare insurance makes you nervous or stressed, you’re not alone.
Each year, millions of American’s enrolled in Medicare have the opportunity to make changes to their coverage during the election period between Oct. 15 and Dec. 7.
Nicole Wiggins of Premier Senior Insurance Group said reviewing your current plan and comparing the other available options for the coming year can be challenging and time consuming, but it could save you money and hassle later on.
To get an understanding of the importance of the annual election period, Wiggins said to start with the basics. There are a couple of ways to get Medicare coverage:
- Original Medicare parts A and B, with an optional Part D prescription drug plan and optional Medicare supplemental plan.
- Medicare Advantage Plan (Part C).
Medicare Advantage plans come in several different varieties, including HMO plans, PPO plans, fee-for-service plans and special needs plans, to name a few. Also, they may provide additional benefits such as vision, hearing, dental and prescription drug coverage that original Medicare does not provide.
Each year during this period, you can make changes to the way you get Medicare benefits. For instance, you can do any of the following:
- Switch from Medicare parts A and B to a Medicare Advantage Plan, or vice-versa.
- Switch from one Medicare Advantage Plan to another Medicare Advantage Plan.
- Enroll in a Part D prescription drug plan, switch prescription drug plans or drop Part D coverage altogether.
If you’re wondering why any of these possible changes might be warranted, Wiggins said there are several things to consider.
Each year in October, insurance companies announce changes to their Medicare Advantage plans and Part D prescription drug plans that take effect in January of the following year. It’s important to review these plan changes to ensure your plan will still meet your needs in the coming year.
Wiggins said if you’ve had a change in your health status and find you are visiting the doctor’s office more frequently or if you’re taking a new prescription medication, make sure you understand how any changes to your plan’s co-payments and covered services or drugs will affect you.
It is also important to make sure any new physicians you might be seeing will be in your plan’s provider network, she said. If you’re seeing physicians who do not participate with your insurance plan, you will likely pay more for their services, and depending on the type of Medicare Advantage Plan you have, in some cases, you may be responsible for the full cost of services from these out-of-network providers.
Insurance companies may change the covered services, raise premium rates, discontinue some plans or offer new plans in your area that may provide benefits that are better suited to your specific needs and budget.
Companies must issue an Annual Notice of Change to all Medicare Advantage Plan members in October. Wiggins advised people to be on the lookout for this document so you can properly evaluate whether your current plan will continue to meet your needs or if a change needs to be made.
If a Medicare Advantage Plan isn’t right for you, and you choose to get your Medicare benefits through original Medicare parts A and B, adding a Medicare supplemental plan – also called a Medigap plan – is a great option to cover the costs Medicare doesn’t pay such as copayments and coinsurance. There are a wide variety of Medigap plans that are guaranteed renewable. Medigap plans have unique enrollment times and requirements. Visiting with a licensed independent insurance agent can help you better understand all of the plan options available to you.
“If you decide to make a change, we can get you enrolled in your new plan quickly,” Wiggins said. “As licensed professionals, we can give you the information and guidance you need to make an informed decision.”
Wiggins said at Premier Senior Insurance Group, they work with many leading insurance companies and can provide a review and comparison of your plan, inform you of new plan offerings available to you and provide premium quotes with no cost or obligation.
• S P O N S O R E D C O N T E N T •
- Premier Senior Insurance Group | Address: 1031 S. Bluff St., Ste. 122, St. George | Telephone: 435-319-9483 | Website.
Email: [email protected]
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