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3 Good Reasons to Consider Changing Your Medicare Plan in the Medicare Annual Enrollment Period

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Things change and, while you always try to make the best decisions about your Medicare plan, it may no longer be meeting your needs. The Medicare Annual Enrollment Period runs from October 15 to December 7 and it’s the perfect time to re-evaluate your current plan and consider other options. Here are three reasons why it might make sense to take a closer look at your Medicare alternatives.

  1. Your needs have changed.
  2. Hopefully you’re in great health. But we all know our health condition can change in an instant. Maybe yours already has and it’s resulted in you seeing new physicians or taking new prescription drugs that you didn’t have when you enrolled in your current Medicare plan. If you have new physicians or medications that aren’t covered under your existing plan, it’s worth your while to see if there are other plans available in your area that cover these changes. What about your financial situation, mobility or lifestyle? If your income has significantly changed, you may be eligible for Medicare Extra Help with your prescription drug coverage or be dual eligible, qualifying you for a Medicare Savings Program. Maybe you’re no longer driving and need transportation. Also, if you’re new to Medicare, you may have not have known during your Initial Enrollment Period that Medicare Parts A and B don’t include dental, vision, hearing or prescription drug coverage. If you need care or services that aren’t covered in your current plan, it’s a good idea to see what else is available.

  3. Your plan has changed.
  4. Plans are allowed to make changes to benefits, service areas and costs every year. If you currently have a Medicare Advantage Plan or Part D Prescription Drug Plan, your current health insurance provider should notify you of any upcoming changes to your existing plan. You should receive an Annual Notice of Change (ANOC) prior to the beginning of the Medicare Annual Enrollment Period. If you don’t receive your notice by September 30, contact your plan to ask for a copy.

    Review your notice closely to make sure you’re aware of all upcoming changes. Here’s a summary of possible changes you’ll want to pay close attention to:

    • Will the plan still be available? Plans may withdraw from service areas or decide not to renew their contract.
    • Will the cost of your prescription drugs change? Plans may switch prescription drugs to different tiers.
    • Will my other costs change? Plans may change the charges for premiums, deductibles and copays.
    • Will my prescription drugs still be covered? Plans sometimes change the restrictions on certain prescription drugs or may alter its formulary, adding certain prescriptions drugs or dropping others.
    • Can I still see my current physicians? Plans may change which physicians are in- or out-of-network.

    If your costs will significantly increase or you’ll experience a loss of important coverage, you’ll want to take advantage of the Medicare Annual Enrollment Period to find, evaluate and enroll in a plan that better suits your needs. Even if there aren’t any major changes in your current plan, it’s worth your peace of mind to compare what you have with other plans available in your area.

  5. You’ve had high out-of-pocket expenses with your current plan.
  6. Medicare Parts A and B don’t cover everything, which means it could end up costing you a lot more than you were expecting. Things like eyeglasses, dental visits, hearing aids and prescription drug coverage can really add up. That’s why many Medicare beneficiaries choose a Medicare Advantage Plan because it covers everything included in Medicare Parts A and B, and many also provide dental, vision, hearing and prescription drug coverage in one convenient plan.

    Take some time before the Medicare Annual Enrollment Period begins to understand your current and future costs based on changes to your current plan. Then find out about plans available in your areas, so you can compare the premium, primary and specialist copays, deductible and prescription drug costs. Some Medicare Advantage plans offer $0 premiums, copays, and deductibles. Just be aware you still have to pay your Medicare Part B premium.

Making changes during the Medicare Annual Enrollment Period

Any changes you make during the Medicare Annual Enrollment Period take effect January 1 of the upcoming year. Changes you can make include:

  • Switch from Original Medicare (Parts A and B) to a Medicare Advantage Plan
  • Switch from a Medicare Advantage Plan to Original Medicare
  • Switch from one Medicare Advantage Plan to another
  • Enroll in a Part D Prescription Drug Plan
  • Switch from one prescription drug coverage to another
We’re Here to Help

There’s a lot to consider and it’s not always easy to find the right Medicare plan. That’s why we give you options for getting the advice and guidance you need. Our convenient Medicare Online Enrollment Portal makes it easy to quickly find, compare and enroll in a plan that’s right for you. You can also contact our Medicate Advocates at 1-800-991-4407 / TTY 711 from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. ET, Monday through Friday.