5 Simple Tips to Prepare for Medicare’s Open Enrollment

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The annual election period for Medicare — also known as open enrollment — occurs each year from October 15 through December 7. During Medicare open enrollment, Medicare plan enrollees have the chance to review their coverage needs and make changes that will affect their coverage for the entire upcoming year. Preparing for open enrollment in advance can help you, as a Medicare beneficiary, make smart decisions about your coverage.

Watch for Notices in the Mail

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Medicare and Social Security both send out important notices regarding your Medicare plan, including your Annual Notice of Changes. It is a good idea to read over this notice to determine any changes to your existing coverage or to discover any extra help that may be available for paying for your prescription drugs.

Educate Yourself

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The “Medicare & You” publication comes out each year and is sent to Medicare enrollees via mail (or electronically if the enrollee elects to receive electronic delivery). This handbook contains information about Medicare coverage and area plans available to you and can be an important source for enrollees looking to better understand their Medicare options.

Assess Your Medicare Needs for the Upcoming Year

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Review your current coverage and decide if it meets your needs. Take special note of costs and benefits. You can elect to keep your current coverage, assuming it’s still available for the upcoming year. If you decide to change nothing about your coverage, you simply don’t take any action during the enrollment period. Shopping around can be smart, especially if your prescription drug needs have changed.

Compare Coverage Options

Medicare offers its Medicare Plan Finder online to help enrollees compare coverage options and shop for Medicare Advantage and other plans. Users simply create an account to get personalized recommendations based on their prescription drug lists and other factors.

Know What You Can Do During Open Enrollment

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When preparing for Medicare open enrollment, understand what changes to your Medicare coverage you can make as a beneficiary. This includes:

  • Switching to a new Medicare Advantage plan.
  • Changing back to Original Medicare from a Medicare Advantage plan.
  • Switching from a Medicare Advantage plan back to Original Medicare.
  • Switching from one Medicare Part D plan to another Part D plan.
  • Joining a Medicare Part D plan for prescriptions.
  • Dropping Medicare Part D coverage if desired.

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