Medicare beneficiaries can change their Medicare coverage to a Medicare Advantage Plan, stand-alone Prescription Drug Plan, or original Medicare on a yearly basis. Medicare Open Enrollment begins October 15thand ends December 7th of each year. Comparing plans enables beneficiaries to find the best plan for their individual circumstance.
Why Does this Matter?
Plans often make changes to their formularies and approved healthcare providers. For instance, an expensive drug may no longer be on one plan’s formulary and may no longer be covered. A beneficiary dependent on that medication has limited options – they can either switch to a comparable drug (if one is available) that is on the current formulary, take a chance and petition the plan for an exemption, or pay the drug cost out-of-pocket. It could be that one’s physician or hospital no longer accepts the plan or vice-versa. The beneficiary is then left with the same, often costly, options.
Unfortunately, new data from the non-profit Kaiser Family Foundation shows that only 8% of Medicare beneficiaries switch plans each year. While some find their current plan costs, coverage, and rules are best for them, many beneficiaries are unaware they can switch or find that comparing plans is simply too complicated. It doesn’t have to be…
Occasionally Life Gives “Do-Overs”
Fortunately, Medicare Advantage Plan beneficiaries have an additional opportunity for a “do-over” and switch to the best plan for their individual needs. From January 1st through March 31st, Medicare Advantage Plan participants can switch to another Medicare Advantage Plan, or to Original Medicare with or without a stand-alone prescription drug plan (Part D), during the Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment Period (MA OEP).
Changes made during this period take effect the first of the month following the month you enroll. For example, if you switch to a new Medicare Advantage Plan in February, your new coverage begins March 1st.
Please note that you can only use the MA OEP if you currently have a Medicare Advantage Plan. Also be aware that you can only switch one time.
If you’ve discovered the Medicare Advantage Plan you signed up for isn’t the best plan for you or something has changed since the initial Medicare Open Enrollment period, please take advantage of the MA OEP today. Make sure Medicare is working for you.