Each fall, there is a significant buzz around all Medicare terms. This buzz is because the start of Annual Enrollment Period, Medicare’s biggest season, starts October 15th. This time of year is the only time to make changes to Medicare Advantage plans or Medicare Part D plans.
What is Annual Enrollment Period?
Annual Enrollment Period, sometimes known as Medicare Open Enrollment or Annual Election Period, starts October 15th and lasts through December 7th each year. This period is important for those who have a Medicare Advantage plan. It is the only time of year you can drop your Medicare Advantage plan and enroll in Original Medicare. Once you do this, you can enroll in a Medicare supplement plan, and receive full coverage for all your medical needs.
Overall, this period is the most crucial for all Medicare beneficiaries, because it is the only time when you can make changes to your Part D plans. Part D covers your prescription drugs. We recommend that everyone enrolls in a Part D plan to ensure they have prescription drug coverage in the event you need to take any medications. Without it, you will be subject to significant out-of-pocket costs.
How to Drop a Medicare Advantage Plan
Dropping your Medicare Advantage plan is simple. First, ensure that you are in Annual Enrollment Period (Oct. 15-Dec. 7). You will not be able to drop your plan outside of this period. Once you are in this period, contact your plan directly. They will be able to disenroll you from your Medicare Advantage plan. Disenrolling might look different depending on the plan you have, but the safest way to contact your plan is to call. You can also reach out to Medicare by calling 1 (800) MEDICARE. You will be able to drop your plan by calling this number as well.
You can also join or switch Medicare Advantage plans at this time; however, we find that most seniors save the most money and receive the most coverage while on Original Medicare and a Medicare supplement plan. Each situation is different for each senior, so the best way to find out which plan best fits your needs is to talk to an agent.
How to Get Medicare Part D Plans
As mentioned, you can also join, switch, or drop Part D plans during Annual Enrollment Period. We created an easy to follow, step-by-step guide on how to receive one of these plans.
2019 Part D costs vary from plan to plan. Some plans offer minimal coverage, resulting in a lower premium, while other plans might provide optimum coverage with a higher premium. Higher-income consumers might also pay more for their monthly Part D premium. The best way to find out what you will pay in 2019 for Part D is to use our Part D plan finder tool.
We recommend that every senior gets a Part D plan. Even if you are healthy and do not currently take any prescription medications, unplanned medical expenses can occur at any time. Because of this, we want to ensure you are not caught off guard and do not have to pay any large out-of-pocket expenses for prescription medications. Enrolling in a Part D plan early, or during Annual Enrollment Period, can prevent this from happening.
Adding a Medicare Supplement Plan
Once you drop Medicare Advantage and enroll in Medicare Advantage, most seniors find the most savings when they add a Medicare supplement plan. The premium for a Medicare supplement plan is often affordable, and some plans, such as Plan F or Plan G, offer complete coverage for your medical expenses. Medicare does not cover all costs. It will typically only pay for 80% of the costs associated with inpatient or outpatient care. A Medicare supplement plan can pay the remaining 20% that the patient would usually be responsible for paying. Having Original Medicare and a Medicare supplement plan ensures you have full, complete coverage at a low cost each month.
If you joined in Medicare Advantage when you first became eligible for Medicare and are choosing to switch to Original Medicare and a Medicare supplement plan, you can do so without penalty. Once your Part B becomes active, you enter your Medigap Open Enrollment period. During this period, you have guaranteed issue rights and cannot be turned down for a plan based off of previous or current medical history. This history includes permanent illnesses or conditions such as being a smoker. It also ensures that you cannot be charged more based off of these pre-existing conditions.
If you did not enroll in Medicare Advantage when you first became eligible and your Medigap Open Enrollment period has passed, you may have to undergo medical underwriting.
We Can Help
Whether you’re planning on joining, dropping, or switching a Medicare Advantage or Part D plan, we can help. Our friendly agents can help you through the process. We can get you enrolled in a Medicare supplement plan at the same time. If you are ready, you can get a Medicare supplement quote online, or give us a call at (800) 310-2550.