Contributed by: Sandra Adams, CFP®
If you’re 65 and older (or you assist someone who is), you are likely swimming in a sea of Medicare plan flyers, prescription drug plan notices, disclaimers and other various forms that are nothing short of overwhelming and confusing. Welcome to Medicare Open Enrollment!
What is Medicare Open Enrollment?
It is the window that opens annually from October 15th through December 7th for anyone currently enrolled in Medicare. Open enrollment allows you to make changes to your plan by signing up for Medicare Advantage (Part C) or a Medicare Prescription Drug Plan (Part D). You can also make changes to an existing plan, move to a new one, change drug coverage benefits or dis-enroll. Or you can make no change at all.
In our experience in listening to clients, open enrollment and Medicare options in general can be a bit overwhelming. However, taking the time to do a thorough annual review of your Medicare options to make sure you are in the most cost effective plan can be very worthwhile, if done right.
Here are tips for a successful Medicare Open Enrollment:
Don’t get Overwhelmed. There will be a lot of mail, most won’t apply to you. Wait until you get your Medicare and You Book from Medicare. This is the guidebook for the new plan year.
Be Prepared. Have all of the information you will need regarding any current coverage, current costs, current medical conditions, physicians and medications so that you are able to go through the process of making a decision about making a change.
Use Available Resources.
- Use the online tools at www.medicare.gov can help you determine the correct plans for you based on your geographical area, physicians, medications, etc.
- Use the resources and assistance available at local senior centers and Area Agency on Aging, etc.
- Use the resources of independent Medicare consultants who may be able to guide you based on your individual needs (see the link here for upcoming Medicare events sponsored by the Center).
Take Action (or Not). If your analysis on your own or with the help of others suggests that a change is in order, take action to make that change before the December 7th deadline. However, if you are already in the best plan for you, nothing says you have to make a change just because it is open enrollment time. It is okay to make no change at all.
Medicare Open Enrollment provides a window of opportunity to review current plans and make changes if they make sense for you. We recommend that you take advantage of the resources that are available to assist with the analysis of these plans – they can get complicated and there is no need to go it alone! Please contact your financial planner if you have questions about how Medicare works with your overall financial plan or if you would like a personal referral to a Medicare resource in your area.
Sandra Adams, CFP® is a Partner and Financial Planner at Center for Financial Planning, Inc. Sandy specializes in Elder Care Financial Planning and is a frequent speaker on related topics. In addition to her frequent contributions to Money Centered, she is regularly quoted in national media publications such as The Wall Street Journal, Research Magazine and Journal of Financial Planning.
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