by Andrew Petty
At this time of year, current Medicare beneficiaries have the option to make changes in their coverage. The so-called Medicare Open Enrollment period runs from October 15 to December 7. If you’re enrolled in Medicare, this is an opportunity for you to make adjustments to your plan that will take effect on January 1, 2021.
It makes sense to review your coverage annually. Check the “Annual Notice of Change” that you should have received from Medicare Advantage and prescription drug plan providers. Be sure you understand how adjustments for 2021 could affect your coverage or costs. Changes may impact premiums, deductibles, drug costs and provider or pharmacy “networks.”
At the same time, consider your own situation. Have you experienced changes in your health that may affect your medical needs? Do you now take prescription drugs that may not be as effectively covered under your current drug plan? If you answer yes to either question, you’ll want to explore other options during the open enrollment period.
Options to consider
During this special enrollment period, you have the flexibility to make meaningful changes in your coverage. Here are some to consider:
Moving from original Medicare (Parts A & B) and Medicare Supplement (Medigap) plan to Medicare Advantage
Private insurance companies offer Medicare Advantage plans. They are designed to cover costs picked up by parts A and B and your supplement plan. Premiums can be more attractive but pay attention to how out-of-pocket costs may impact you. Advantage plans may also provide dental and vision coverage, something that is not typically included in more traditional coverage.
Moving from Medicare Advantage to traditional Medicare
If you are interested in moving from Medicare Advantage to traditional Medicare, you may be able to do so. If you are in your one-year trial period with Medicare Advantage, you are allowed to switch to traditional Medicare and a supplement plan at this time. If you are outside that window, your ability to pick up a Medigap policy may depend on laws in your state. If underwriting is required to enroll in a Medigap plan, issuance is not guaranteed.
Switching Medicare Advantage Plans
You have complete flexibility to move from one Medicare Advantage to another during this time period. You’ll want to make sure your preferred medical providers are part of the network in a different plan if you are looking to switch.
Enroll or change your Part D prescription drug coverage
The open enrollment period is a time to compare drug plans to see if you can find better coverage that is more cost efficient for you. It is also an opportunity to either enroll in Part D coverage if you don’t have it or drop coverage if you think you aren’t getting much benefit from it. Be aware, however, that if you drop coverage, you must wait until the open enrollment period next year to join in again and a late enrollment penalty may apply.
Help is available
You can find plenty of information about Medicare through the program’s website Medicare.gov. But there’s a lot to sort through. You may want to work with an insurance professional who specializes in Medicare coverage. As always, your financial advisor can help you determine how your decisions surrounding Medicare fit into your overall retirement plan.
Andrew R. Petty, CRPC®, APMA®, CLTC®, is a Private Wealth Advisor with Nona Wealth Advisors, a private wealth advisory practice of Ameriprise Financial Services, Inc. He offers fee-based financial planning and asset management strategies and has been in practice for 19 years. To contact him, please call 407-249-4006, visit his website at https://www.ameripriseadvisors.com/team/nona-wealth-advisors or stopover at his office at 10917 Dylan Loren Circle, Suite A, Orlando, FL 32825.
Investment advisory products and services are made available through Ameriprise Financial Services, LLC, a registered investment adviser.
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