The Medicare annual enrollment season is now in full swing. If you’re Currently on Medicare then this enrollment season is made just for you. Between October 15th and December 7th is the time to change to a different insurance carrier that offers a Medicare Advantage plan or a Medicare drug plan.
The insurance companies are able to make changes every year to their plan benefits, co-pays and premiums. Once these changes are approved by Medicare, they can release the new plan information October 1st and that is when a Medicare beneficiary can start researching their options if they think they may want to make a change. Any change made becomes effective January 1st.
Many people, for some reason, take the task of looking for a new plan on by themselves. Most often I find that these are the people that when they first enrolled in a Medicare Advantage plan they enrolled directly with the company and didn't have a personal broker to explain options and benefits and establish a relationship with. Other times during the Medicare annual enrollment period (AEP) I come across people who started with a broker when they first went onto Medicare, but then that person left their Medicare insurance career or ended up just not being a good fit for the Medicare beneficiary to feel comfortable working with year to year. The problem with trying to see if your current plan is the right plan for you without the help of a Medicare insurance professional is that you don't know what to look for because you “don't know what you don't know”. And, when you use a broker to help you find the right fit for you, their services are free! Now that’s a silver lining to off-set the “dark cloud” of being inundated with Medicare plan materials in your mailbox.
If you're looking to change your Medicare Advantage plan you need to be careful because not all Medicare Advantage plans participate with all of the medical networks in Orange County. If you switch to a plan because you think they have a better hearing aid benefit for example, and you don't double check to make sure that your preferred doctors and hospitals are in network you may end up on a plan that doesn't allow you access to those providers and hospitals. You also need to be sure to pick the right plan that offers the lowest co-pays on your medications.
Medicare drug plans also change annually. There can be changes to the deductible, premium, co-pays, networks, and formulary (the drugs that are covered by the plan). People who have a Medicare drug plan are those that use their Original Medicare card as their primary insurance and then usually purchase a Medicare supplement plan to cover their share of the expenses that Medicare doesn’t pay. Often during AEP I get calls from people in this situation looking to see if a move to a Medicare Advantage plan could help them with their RX expenses. (And for sure it would because there aren’t RX premiums OR deductibles on the majority of the Medicare Advantage plans offered in Orange County.) Their Medicare supplement plan premiums also tend to increase annually, and not having to pay that premium every month can really help them save a lot of money.
It’s all about knowing your options and the facts. If you’re looking for a broker to help you with your Medicare AEP decisions, call or email me today to schedule a no-obligation, no-fee consultation.