The Medicare Open Enrollment Period for 2020 ended on December 7th, 2019. However, you still have an opportunity to switch your Medicare Advantage Plan to the plan best suited for you. That period begins January 1st and ends March 31st, 2020.
Many Medicare Advantage (MA) and Prescription Drug Plans (PDP) change annually. Your doctor or hospital may no longer be on the providers list. An expensive prescription drug you take may no longer be carried on the company formulary. Some of these changes can result in higher costs for you in the coming year.
According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, very few people switch their MA or PDPs – only about 8% of people who are not on low income subsidies. Some people are happy with their existing plan, but most Medicare beneficiaries aren’t even aware they can switch or compare plans (from 45% for most folks to as high as 57% for people 85 and over).
How Do You Compare Plans?
A Medicare Plan Finder was developed for the Medicare.gov website in 2005 (https://www.medicare.gov/plan-compare/#/?lang=en). CMS, as well as beneficiary advocate organizations requested updates to make the tool easier to use. The new Plan Finder was released this year prior to the Fall Open Enrollment period. The new Medicare Plan Finder offers an improved user experience and a streamlined design.
As the Kaiser Family Foundation points out however, “beneficiaries have an average of 28 MA plans and 28 PDP from which to choose”. The choices often overwhelm and confuse beneficiaries. Older, disabled, or beneficiaries with several chronic conditions may have additional issues accessing the best plan.
I’ve Decided on a Plan, Now What?
Although the new Medicare Plan Finder is easier to use, it’s still recommended that beneficiaries contact the MA or PDP company directly or their agent of record for any clarification or changes. CMS tries to keep this information updated but it’s always helpful to contact the company for any last-minute changes to the provider list or formulary.
An annual review and plan comparison can ultimately save hundreds, even thousands of dollars over the coming year. A guide like Dennis Leever at My Medicare Guy can help you through this process to alleviate some of the difficulty in finding the best plan for you. There is no cost for these services.