Medicare’s Open Enrollment Period: If You Need to Make Changes

September 28, 2017

There’s a lot to know, including the different dates during which you can enroll, when you can change plans, and which option is best for you.

If you have Medicare, you need to understand the Open Enrollment Period (OEP) so you can be confident that you have the most affordable, best-fit coverage to suit your needs.

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What is it?

Also called the Annual Enrollment Period (AEP), this is the one time during the year at which you can change your coverage option.

It runs from October 15 through December 7 each year.

What can you do during the OEP?

These are the options you have during the Open Enrollment Period.

  • Switch from Original Medicare to Medicare Advantage.
  • Switch from a Medicare Advantage plan to Original Medicare.
  • Swap Medicare Advantage Plans.
  • Change from a Medicare Advantage Plan that doesn’t include prescription drugs to one that does.
  • Change from a Medicare Advantage Plan that does cover prescription drugs to one that doesn’t.
  • Enroll in a Medicare prescription drug plan.
  • Change Medicare prescription plans.
  • Completely stop your Medicare prescription coverage.

What do you need to do?

In the months leading up to the October 15th beginning date for the OEP, you should assess your coverage needs.

One of the most important factors to evaluate is your prescription drug plan.

For example, perhaps you take new or different medications than you did when you originally enrolled and your current plan is no longer sufficient.

You should also look at your overall medical picture and your current total coverage.

If your health or financial status has changed, it’s a good idea to get some guidance from an independent insurance provider.

On the other hand, if your plan is working well for you and you’re satisfied, you can relax and let the open enrollment period sail on by.

Evaluate your plan every year

There are certain circumstances in which it’s in your best interest to change up your Medicare coverage.

You may need to make changes if:

  • You want to switch your primary care physician and that doctor isn’t currently part of your insurance plan.
  • You want better coverage.
  • You need a plan that costs less.
  • You aren’t happy with the plan. If you aren’t satisfied, it’s well worth it to look into a different arrangement that may better suit your needs.
  • You move to a new state or part of the state. Your current coverage may not be available in a new area.
  • Your medical needs have changed. If you’ve had a new diagnosis that requires more medical treatment than what you have coverage for, you obviously need to find one that does.
  • Your prescription drug needs have changed. A new diagnosis will usually bring a slew of new prescriptions.
  • Your plan changes. Sometimes the plan itself will change and no longer service your area.
  • You enter or leave a nursing home. A change like this will necessitate another look at your current coverage.
  • You change your marital status. A divorce or death of a spouse can have a significant impact on the kind of coverage you need.

Why seek the advice of a pro?

The healthcare market, in general, is a maze of information from which you’re expected to decipher your needs and make the best choice.

It can be nearly impossible to do on your own and can cause you to make hasty decisions that don’t really represent your actual situation.

An independent insurance expert can look at your circumstances as a whole and guide you toward the best choices for your healthcare.

They are skilled in understanding the ins and outs of different plans and have the ability to relay to you in a way that’s not greek to you!

If you need help evaluating your health care coverage needs, give us a call at InsureOne Benefits!

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