The Medicare AEP (Annual Election Period) is the time of year where existing Medicare beneficiaries can review and change their Medicare Advantage or Part D plans every year. The period runs from October 15th through December 7th.
There are different enrollment periods for people turning 65 or losing work insurance later in life, are moving, etc. If you fall into one of those different populations, you probably have more time to make your Medicare decisions.
During this period, it is imperative that you review your coverage. Many plans change drastically on a year to year basis, and so do your health needs. Find a Medicare advisor you trust, and spend a few minutes with them to make sure you have the right coverage for 2023
Here are a few pointers to help you navigate the Medicare open enrollment season this year:
Check Your Medicare Plan
If your Medicare plan is not terminating (you get many notices if it is), and you are happy and want to stay in your plan, you do not have to do anything. It will roll into 2021 seamlessly. (You should receive an “Annual Notice of Change” from your carrier by October. Be sure to look through it and make sure you are okay with any changes.)
Review Your Medicare Supplement Plans
If you have a Medicare Supplement policy, you have the flexibility to change your plan at any time throughout the year. The Annual Election Period is a good time to review your Part D prescription drug plan, if applicable. In most cases, AEP is the only time you can make changes to your Part D plan.
Work with a Local Medicare Insurance Agent
All Medicare plans are county and zip-code based. This means you may fare better if you connect with a local agent who represents several local plans rather than calling into an 800-number from a commercial with someone famous on it. (They are probably sending you into a telemarketing operation licensed in several states but with little information about which providers, hospital systems, etc., accept the plans in your community.)
Pay Attention to Your Drug Costs
Brand name drugs, insulin, and other costly medications can be the biggest expense of many Medicare members. Part D drug plans change every year, often rising in premium a significant amount. Check to see if there are other plans available that are more cost effective for your needs. There are also strategies beyond your insurance to lower drug costs. Ask your Medicare insurance agent for tips.
Be Careful Where You Enroll in Medicare
If you are going to enroll online, make sure you are using a trusted source or website. If you cannot confirm that it is safe, it is probably better to enroll directly on the carrier’s website or even Medicare.gov. Do not fall for a distracting website where your personal information might not be protected. Lastly, watch out for misleading TV commercials and home mailings, they are typically not acting with your best interest in mind!
Take Advantage of Telemedicine
CMS has greatly reduced the barriers to your providers using telemedicine for many of your appointments. If you would like to try one of those options, talk to your provider or insurance company to find out what options you have.
If your concerns are not addressed here, please feel free to reach out to me directly, or schedule a time to conduct an annual review. I can either help with the answer or connect you with an agent in your community who can.
Nate Rubenstein is the founder of Midwest Medicare Advisors, LLC. He and his team have helped approximately 2,000 Medicare beneficiaries throughout the country.