Medicare’s Open Enrollment period gives those who rely on Medicare the opportunity to make changes to their health plans or prescription drug plans, pick a Medicare Advantage Plan or return to Original Medicare.
The Medicare Open Enrollment period occurs every year from Oct. 15 through Dec. 7, with coverage changes taking effect Jan. 1. During this time, people can find a plan that better meets their needs, saves money, or both.
Medicare plans can change year to year. Medicare’s official website, Medicare.gov, makes it relatively easier to compare coverage options and shop for plans. People can do a side-by-side comparison of plan coverage, costs, and quality ratings to help them more easily see the differences between plans.
Here are some things to consider when shopping for Medicare coverage:
• Check if doctors are still in-network and prescriptions are on the plan’s formulary.
• Realize that the plan with the lowest monthly premium may not always be the best fit for specific health needs.
• Look at the plan’s deductible and other out-of-pocket costs that factor into total costs.
• Know that some plans offer extra benefits, like vision, hearing, or dental coverage, which could help meet individual health care needs.
• Consider whether Original Medicare or a Medicare Advantage Plan is the best choice.
Where to find info and help
Here are four ways you can compare plans and look at savings options:
• Find plans at Medicare.gov and do side-by-side comparisons of costs and coverage.
• Call 1-800-MEDICARE. Help is available 24 hours a day, including weekends.
• Access personalized health insurance counseling at no cost, available from State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP). Visit shiptacenter.org or call 1-800-MEDICARE for each SHIP’s phone number. Many SHIPs also offer virtual counseling.
• Check eligibility for Medicare Savings Programs. People with Medicare facing challenges paying for health care may qualify for Medicare Saving Programs run by their state. These programs can help save money on premiums, prescription drugs, and other health care costs. If your income for 2021 is below $18,000, it may be worth contacting your state’s Medicaid program about help that may be available to you. Contact 1-800-MEDICARE to find out where to apply.
For more information, visit Medicare.gov or call 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227). TTY users can call 1-877-486-2048. Help is available 24 hours a day, including weekends.