Open enrollment for Medicare for the 2018 year is from October 15, 2017, until December 7, 2017. During this annual enrollment period, there are a number of changes you may make to your current healthcare policy, including switching your Part D or Medicare Advantage plan.
There are so many options when it comes to your Medicare plan, and that makes choosing the right option for you sometimes a difficult process. Although these choices may seem overwhelming, it is a positive benefit of Medicare. During the open enrollment period, you may get health benefits that your original Medicare doesn’t cover or reduce the amount of coverage you are receiving if you don’t need it. Here you may get the traditional Medicare coverage, plus additional features that may help you pay for out-of-pocket costs. However, you only have a few weeks to choose the best plan for you that will maximize the benefits for your money.
Changes made to your Medicare plan will become effective January 1, 2018. During the Medicare open enrollment period you may:
- Leave your current Medicare plan as is
- Switch to a Medicare Advantage plan from Original Medicare
- Switch to Original Medicare from a Medicare Advantage plan
- Change Medicare Advantage plans
- Change Part D prescription drug plans, sign up for a drug plan if you don’t have one now, or drop drug coverage
Original Medicare is the most commonly purchased type of Medicare. One benefit to Original Medicare is your option to see any doctor or go to any hospital that accepts Medicare. Original Medicare is broken down into two parts:
- Part A: Covers hospital care. You likely will not have to pay a premium.
- Part B: Covers doctor visits, outpatient care, lab work, X-rays and preventive services. You will have to pay a monthly premium as well as a deductible and coinsurance.
Part D is reserved for those who wish to add a prescription drug plan. For Part D, you will pay a monthly premium.
Medicare Advantage plans cover everything under the Original Medicare plan, except hospice care. The difference between Medicare Advantage and Original Medicare is who you may receive it through. Medicare Advantage is sold by private companies and Medicare Advantage tends to be more restrictive. Under this coverage, you will get a list of doctors and hospitals in your plan’s network. If you choose to see someone outside of the network, you will have to pay more out-of-pocket expenses.
What If My 65th Birthday Is During the Open Enrollment Period?
If you are just turning 65 and wish to enroll in Medicare, you have three months before your birth month and three months after your birth month in which you may enroll. If your birthday happens to fall during the open enrollment period it is important that you sign up for this current year, so that you are covered until January 1, 2018. Additionally, you will need to sign up for coverage during the open enrollment period as well to receive coverage after January 1, 2018.
I Think My Plan Is Fine, Why Change?
Even if you feel that your Medicare plan is fully effective for you as is, it is important to review your coverage. Drug plans and health care needs are constantly changing, as are the laws that cover these needs. Before open enrollment begins, you should receive an “Annual Notice of Change.” Here you must make sure that the prescriptions you currently take will be covered, that your current health-care professionals are covered, how much, if anything, will you need to be paying out-of-pocket for deductibles, copayments, and coinsurance, do you have coverage if you travel out of state or out of the country, and how your Medicare will work with your employer’s insurance. For more information, or to make changes to your Medicare health plan, go to www.medicare.gov.
With health laws changing on a more than annual basis, it is important to protect yourself through an effective health care plan. At Tully Law, P.C. we understand that finding the right health care plan to meet your needs can be difficult. Life Care Planning helps people find and pay for good care for life by bundling Medicaid asset protection, Medicaid benefits qualification, Social Security Disability Income (SSI) qualification, long-term care services coordination, nursing home advocacy and crisis intervention. The New York elder law and estate planning attorneys at our firm will assist you in developing a Life Care Plan that works for you. For more information, call (631) 424-2800 or fill out our contact form.