The End of Medicare Open Enrollment is near! Make your changes now.

Medicare Open Enrollment

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Procrastination is not covered by Medicare! If you have waited until now to take advantage of Medicare Open Enrollment – that grace period when you can change a program – then you only have a few days left. December 7 at midnight is the last hurrah. If you want to make a change, do it before then. This is one of the most important enrollment periods for Medicare.

First, read the Annual Notice of Change that has been sitting on your desk for weeks. This will let you know about any changes in your plan, such as a higher deductible or a change in prescription coverage. Make sure your prescriptions will still be covered by your Medicare Part D plan. Determine what tiers your prescriptions are in, as costs differ for each tier.
You may also want to leaf through Medicare & You 2021, the handbook from the government that will tell you what traditional Medicare covers.

Here is a quick summation of the possibilities for making changes. (See previous blogs for more details.)
 Change from traditional Medicare to a Medicare Advantage (MA) plan, also known as Medicare Part C:
o An MA plan will pay for out-of-pocket costs over what Medicare Parts A and B cover.
o Understand the MA plan’s costs – deductible, co-pays, etc. for 2018.
o Understand the MA plan’s drug coverage – or lack of.

 Change from a Medicare Advantage plan to another:
o You can change to another MA plan if you are not happy with new costs or a change in benefits.
o Compare the costs and benefits of both.
o You might want to switch from an HMO to a PPO or vice versa.

 Change from Medigap to Medicare Advantage:
o IF you drop Medigap insurance for an MA plan, the first year will be considered a trial period. Within that time, you can change back under certain conditions. If you wait longer than a year, your cost to return to Medigap may increase.

 Change from a Medicare Advantage plan back to traditional Medicare IF
o You joined the MA plan during the initial enrollment plan when you first joined Medicare at the age of 65.
o You are in the first year of your plan.

 Change from one Part D plan to another:
o If you have a freestanding prescription drug plan, i.e., not part of an MA plan, you may want to switch if your prescription drug coverage has changed or there will be higher costs with your existing plan in 2018.
Check out the videos on each of these topics in my Resource Center at The Video Library is designed to help you make the decisions that are best for you. 

If you have decided to make a change, do it now – before December 7 – or you will have to wait another year. If you can’t make up your mind, well, doing nothing is making a decision by default. It will be a missed opportunity. Consider your options and, if you want to switch, take action.

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