‘Tis the season for Medicare open enrollment! It’s the perfect time to make changes if you’re not happy with your current plan, or need to adjust your benefits in some way.
It’s also important to read any mail or email notifications about your plan. There’s nothing worse than learning about an important change after open enrollment ends, when it’s too late to make a change.
When is Medicare Open Enrollment?
The open enrollment period for 2018 plans is October 15th through December 7th.
How do I make a change?
Unless you have special circumstances that allow a change outside of this open enrollment period, changes to existing coverage must be submitted by using one of the following methods:
- Fill out the online form at medicare.gov,
- Submit a paper application you’ve received in the mail
- Call the insurance provider directly
- Call Medicare at 1-800-633-4227 (or 1-877-486-2048 TTY)
- Call the Arizona State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP) at 1-800-432-4040
- Go into a local SHIP office
Do you need to make a change if you’re happy with your current plan?
Not necessarily, but it’s a great idea to review your plan and compare it to others, just to ensure you’re getting the best possible coverage with no surprises. Using the Medicare Plan Finder tool is helpful to discover plans available in Arizona.
When are changes effective?
If you decide to make a change, it will be effective on January 1, 2018.
What should I consider?
You’ll find medicare.gov is a helpful resource to answer questions, learn about coverage and explore available plans. The official Medicare blog is also quite useful, if you have time to check it out.
Keep these quick tips in mind as you review options:
- Consider deductibles, copays and your total out-of-pocket maximums, not just the monthly premium. If you have multiple policies, such as Medicare Part D, medigap or supplemental plans, be sure to include those costs in determining if a plan is affordable.
- Learn differences between original Medicare and Medicare Advantage Plans to ensure you’re in the right plan. Some are automatically enrolled in the original plan and changing can be beneficial.
- Can you use doctors, hospitals, pharmacies and specialists near to your home? Convenience is important.
- Read the paperwork to thoroughly understand your plan’s restrictions and exclusions. Do you have the coverage you think you have? Medicare is designed to cover short-term needs, not long-term care. (Adding a supplemental Life Care policy can provide substantial peace-of-mind, and ensure family caregivers aren’t burdened with potential long-term care needs).
- What performance rating does your plan have, and has that rating changed in the past year?
- Do you have prescription drug coverage, or does that require a separate plan (and premium)?Does another plan offer better coverage and less out-of-pocket costs for a similar monthly premium cost?
If you’ve already met your deductible for 2017, are there any preventative tests and screenings you’d like to take advantage of? Now would be the time to schedule them!
- When reviewing your options, make sure you’re looking at medicare.gov, not medicare.com – the .com website is a site managed by insurance brokers, not the government.
- Remember that Medicare doesn’t pay all medical expenses, only those considered reasonable and necessary.
- Not on Medicare yet, but wondering if you qualify? This quick questionnaire can help you figure it out. To learn more about the prescription drug benefits, which may entail a separate policy, click here.
If you’d like to learn more about Sun Health at Home, a continuing care at home program designed to handle long-term care needs of those who prefer to age in place and cover Medicare gaps in coverage, reserve your spot now at our free, no-obligation discovery seminar or call (623) 227- HOME (4663).
Sun Health at Home is the first CCaH program in the southwestern United States, and the only one available in Arizona.