UPDATED: March 23, 2021 – For 2020 coverage, October 15 through December 7th is when Medicare Open Enrollment occurs. This is a great time to make sure you have the right Medicare plans for your changing healthcare needs. However, don’t wait until the fall or winter to do your research on the right plan for you.
It’s important to be prepared when open enrollment time comes around, so you know which plan is best for you. Here is a list of the most common mistakes people make during Medicare’s open enrollment time:
Not Signing Up For Prescription Drug Coverage
The majority of prescription drugs are not covered by classic Medicare. A lot of people who don’t regularly take medication mistakenly avoid purchasing prescription drug coverage with a Medicare Part D plan.
Just because you don’t need prescription medicine now, doesn’t mean you won’t need it later. When you do sign up for prescription coverage under Medicare, you could face some late penalties for doing so if it’s not within the designated sign up time frame.
If you already have creditable prescription drug coverage from another provider, you can hold off on purchasing a Part D plan without paying a penalty. “Creditable” means that the drug coverage is just as good, if not better than Medicare.
Not Reading the Annual Notice of Change For Your Specific Plan
Insurance plans rarely stay the same year to year. Read the Annual Notice Change for your Part D or Medicare Advantage plan during re-enrollment to find out about how differences in cost and coverage will affect you.
This is the best way to avoid getting surprised by the loss of coverage, rate hikes, or other health coverage issues. This will also help you choose which plan is right for you, based on what your anticipated health care needs are and what is actually covered.
Keeping Up With The Joneses
Everyone has opinions about health care. It might be easier to just take the recommendation of a friend or family member about which plan to get, but healthcare is so individual, that decision could be very costly in the long run.
It’s fine to hear what other people have to say about the pros and cons of different plans, such as good customer service, benefits, reputation, etc., but in the long run, only you know what is best for your individual situation.
Do the research and find out which plans to cover your specific health care needs and your budget. After all, your friends and family are not likely to share the same medical history, take the same prescription drugs, or even share the same doctors. So take their advice with a grain of salt and make your own decisions.
Not Changing Plans And Losing Your Doctors
As opposed to Medicare, Medicare Advantage and Part D are only for in-network, local providers. Networks are constantly changing, and can easily drop your favorite doctor from their network.
This can be due to disagreements in pay, medical requirements, or simply a doctor forgetting to sign paperwork for them.
Not switching plans to keep your doctor means you could end up having the extra work of finding a different doctor, who may not necessarily be better.
If you decide to stick with the original, now out-of-network doctor, you will pay out of pocket for every visit. So make sure that when you sign up for a new plan, your doctors are still included in that plan.
Not Comparing Your Options
You seem to have the perfect plan. After all, you haven’t run into any glitches, or if you have, they seem pretty minor to you right now. Does that mean you should just stick with what seems to work?
No, and here is why.
Insurance companies are increasingly competitive with each other for money and for the number of insured people. There may be even better plans out there that increase your coverage, save you money on premiums, prescriptions, or other benefits, or even provide better customer service.
So do the research, put it on a spreadsheet, and run the numbers.
Also keep in mind that if you call a 1-800 number for an insurance plan you heard about on TV, in the mail, or anywhere else, you are only going to get ahold of the representative of that company who has a vested interested in selling you their company’s product.
Find an independent agent who does not work for a single insurance company, so you can look at your options from an objective standpoint and get help finding out which plan works for your specific needs.
You might be surprised by which plans are actually better for you, and then you can sit back and enjoy the results of your research – extra money in your budget and peace of mind for your healthcare needs.
The Differences Between Medicare Advantage And Medicare Supplement Insurance
Original Medicare may offer a lot of flexibility in choosing medical providers, but it does not cover everything.
This is where Medicare Supplement Insurance, also known as Medigap, comes in. It is meant to cover the gaps where Original Medicare does not offer coverage.
Some people make the mistake of believing that this is the same as Medicare Advantage. Another common mistake is going from Original Medicare to Medicare Advantage, dropping the Medigap plan along the way.
This can make it very difficult to obtain Medigap coverage again if you decide to switch back to Original Medicare again. Medigap is controlled by each state, which means there are different laws regarding it’s coverage.
Some states, such as Illinois, for example, let you change your Medigap plans every year without question. Other states do not allow you to change your plan without the process of medical underwriting. If you have pre-existing conditions, you may not even be allowed to change your Medigap plan at all.
The Most Common Mistake
The most common mistake people mistake is not doing anything at all during Medicare’s Open Enrollment Period. Many people settle for what seems easiest, but that ‘ease’ could cause a lot of problems in the future. It always pays off to do your research and find the best plan for your budget and your healthcare needs.