Medicare Open Enrollment 2016: What You Need to Know

Medicare Open Enrollment 2016: Medicare open enrollment is the time period when you can buy into or switch your Medicare Advantage and/or Part D coverage.  This open enrollment period goes from Oct. 15 through Dec. 7.

Medicare Open Enrollment 2016Some might argue that enrolling in Medicare is off the charts painful… It can be so hard to understand… But getting the right coverage can be worth it.

Are There Supplemental Plans that Are Alternatives to What is Available During this Medicare Open Enrollment 2016?

This open enrollment period is for Medicare Advantage and Part D (prescription drug) programs.

If you have a Medigap plan and want to stay with that coverage, then the open enrollment is NOT for you.

However, according to the Boston College Center for Retirement Research, “Advantage plan enrollment is on the rise, because these plans have lower premiums than Medigap plans. But some experts warned in a 2015 blog that Advantage plans have higher potential out-of-pocket costs, despite the lower premiums. A recent blog discusses the pitfalls of Advantage plans.”

What Should You Look for During the Open Enrollment Period

We recommend that all Medicare beneficiaries carefully evaluate their covverage EVERY year during the open enrollment period.

If you are not enrolled in Medicare Advantage and have a Medigap plan instead, the first question to consider is, do you like that coverage or do you want to switch to Medicare Advantage. If you want to switch, then you will need to compare your options very carefully.

If you are already enrolled in Medicare Advantage and / or a Part D plan, you want to find out:

  • Have there been any changes to your current coverage?
  • How do changes in your health status or prescription needs impact your out of pocket spending?
  • What will your current coverage cost this year vs last?
  • How does health care reform improve your coverage?
  • What are the alternatives to your current plans?

If you are already enrolled, your current insurer should send you an Annual Notice of Change (ANOC) or Evidence of Coverage (EOC).  These documents should outline changes in your plan’s costs, benefits or rules.

If You Already Have a Medicare Plan, Why Should You Care About Open Enrollment?

The Medicare Advantage or Part D program you have now, might not be the right program for you next year.  These plans change.  Your health needs change.  It is worth evaluating your coverage every year.

Research shows that people with Medicare prescription drug coverage (Part D) could lower their costs by shopping among plans each year; there could be another Part D plan in your area that covers the drugs you take with fewer restrictions and/or lower prices.

If You Are Enrolled in Medicare, Why Do You Need More Insurance?

Everyone enrolls in Medicare parts A and B.  However, these programs do not cover the vast majority of medical costs.

A supplemental Medicare program can help minimize your total out of pocket health expenditures.

How Significant Are Medicare Costs?

Studies have shown that the total out pocket Medicare costs are higher than the total Social Security income for the average retiree.  In other words, Social Security income does not even cover what most retirees will have to spend on their health.

So, figuring out ways to minimize costs and avoid financial ruin from a medical emergency is a worthwhile endeavor.


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