Besides football, Halloween, and the changing of the seasons, October is also the beginning of Medicare Open Enrollment.
Medicare Open Enrollment begins October 15th and runs through December 7th. This is the time of year that you can change your prescription portion of your Medicare plan, which is commonly known as Part D. During this time, you can also go back to original Medicare, if you currently have a Medicare Advantage Plan, which is commonly known as Part C, or visa versa. If you do have a Medicare Advantage Plan, you can also choose a different Advantage plan. Besides original Medicare and prescription coverage, a Medicare Advantage plan also can provide additional benefits like vision, dental, and hearing coverage.
Like your home and auto insurance, health insurance plans change their coverage and can increase their costs on an annual basis. This is why it is important to check your coverage on your Part D and Advantage plan, each year, to make sure your current plan still fits your needs and budget.
This year, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) announced that the average monthly premium for Part D coverage is expected to decrease 13.5% and that Medicare Advantage plans are also expected to decline 14% on average in 2020. All the more reason to shop your coverage.
For your Part D prescription coverage, you want to make sure that your current prescriptions are still covered by your current plan, or any new prescriptions will be covered, as this can change from year to year. By September 30th, your current provider sends out an annual notice of change/evidence of coverage form. This is an important document, as it allows you to see if your prescription coverage and/or benefits are changing for the new plan year.
In 2020, Medicare Advantage plans will be adding some new supplemental benefits, like adult care services and caregiver support services. For patients with diabetes and congestive heart failure, there will be reduced cost sharing. There will also be expanded benefits for chronically ill patients to improve or maintain their health like meal delivery and transportation for non-medical needs; reasons to also shop your Medicare Advantage plans.
Medicare has redesigned their plan finder tool to make it easier for you to shop and compare prices. You can check it out at www.medicare.gov/plan-compare
Even if you are satisfied with your current coverage and make no changes, it is always a good idea to shop and compare prices each year during open enrollment – good luck!