The commercials are constant! Your phone hasn’t stopped ringing! Your mailbox is stuffed!
Medicare Annual Enrollment Period is upon us, and the evidence is inescapable! As the season approaches, it is imperative that seniors understand what the Annual Enrollment Period (often referred to as “AEP”) means, and exercise caution to avoid jeopardizing coverage during this time.
Annual Enrollment Period is from October 15th to December 7th every year. This is the opportunity to make changes to current Medicare plans. Confusion often sets in when seniors try to decipher which plans AEP actually applies to.
Medicare Advantage Plans (Part C) – These are HMO’s and PPO’s that bundle coverage together. They typically include drug coverage and offer low monthly premiums. During AEP, you may either enroll or switch to a different Advantage plan, or you can return to Original Medicare (Part A & B) and apply for a Medicare Supplement. Always make sure the Supplement accepts you before canceling your Advantage Plan. Any changes you make take effect January 1st of the following year.
Medicare Part D (RX) Plans – These are stand-alone drug plans, usually paired with a Supplement and your Original Medicare coverage (Part A & B). During AEP, you may enroll/switch to a different drug plan, or cancel your plan altogether. Make sure you understand the impact of cancelling your drug coverage, which often involves penalties down the road. Any change you make takes effect January 1st.
Medicare Supplements – AEP has nothing to do with your Supplement (Plan F, Plan G, Plan N). Supplements can be changed anytime during the year as long as you pass the Medical Underwriting (health questionnaire). Please call me if you have questions about this process. Changing plans is generally the only way to save money on your supplement.
Each of the changes I’ve outlined can greatly impact your healthcare experience. When considering options, do notsimply look at the monthly premium – there are many other important factors to consider.
Unfortunately, every year I speak with seniors who have been swindled by a plan that seemed too good to be true. When considering a new plan, ask lots of questions. “Are all my doctors in network? What is my ‘Max Out of Pocket?’ What happens if I travel?” The list goes on.
Lastly, and maybe most importantly, if you ever find yourself on the phone giving out your Medicare number, assume you are being enrolled in a new plan, even if they tell you otherwise. Sadly, this happens all the time.
Please remember that Medicare is nuanced. Each person has unique considerations. I have a great team of experts with years of experience under our belts, and we are eager to help you navigate Medicare at no cost to you! Feel free to visit us at 2604 Long Prairie Road, Suite 100 in Flower Mound. Our direct phone number is 800-750-2407. We look forward to assisting you! God Bless.