Now Is The Time To Review Your Medicare Options: Open Enrollment Is Here
Are you happy with your current Medicare plan or plans? Now is the time to think about whether you are in the right plan or whether a new plan could save you money. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services recently announced they would be extending the deadline for individuals affected by the recent hurricanes. According to www.cms.gov, “CMS established the following special enrollment periods to support individuals impacted by hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria:
- Medicare special enrollment period: This special enrollment period will allow individuals affected by these hurricanes to enroll, dis-enroll or switch Medicare health or prescription drug plans. It is available at the start of the incident period and runs through the end of the calendar year. Individuals may contact 1-800-MEDICARE to request enrollment using this special enrollment opportunity.
- Federal Health Insurance Exchange special enrollment period: CMS created this special enrollment period for certain individuals impacted by these hurricanes who need to enroll in a 2017plan through the Exchange or make changes to their existing 2017 plan. This special enrollment period will apply to individuals who experienced a special enrollment period qualifying event between 60 days prior to the start date of the incident period and December 31, 2017, but were unable to complete the application, plan selection, and enrollment process due to a hurricane-related weather event in 2017. This special enrollment period will allow individuals impacted by the storms to select a new 2017 Exchange plan or make changes to their existing plan at any time through December, 31, 2017. Individuals affected by the storms may contact the Exchange Call Center at 1-800-318-2596 to enroll in a plan.”
During this period you may enroll in a Medicare Part D (prescription drug) plan or, if you currently have a plan, you may change plans. In addition, during the seven-week period you can return to traditional Medicare (Parts A and B) from a Medicare Advantage (Part C, managed care) plan, enroll in a Medicare Advantage plan, or change Advantage plans. Beneficiaries can go to www.medicare.gov or call 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227) to make changes in their Medicare prescription drug and health plan coverage.
Even beneficiaries who have been satisfied with their plans in 2017 need to review their choices for 2018. Be sure to carefully look over the plan’s “Annual Notice of Change” letter. Prescription drug plans can change their premiums, deductibles, the list of drugs they cover, and their plan rules for covered drugs, exceptions, and appeals. Medicare Advantage plans can change their benefit packages, as well as their provider networks.
Remember that fraud perpetrators will inevitably use the Open Enrollment Period to try to gain access to individuals’ personal financial information. Medicare beneficiaries should never give their personal information out to anyone making unsolicited phone calls selling Medicare-related products or services or showing up on their doorstep uninvited. If you think you’ve been a victim of fraud or identity theft, contact Medicare. For more information on Medicare fraud, click here.
Here are more resources for navigating the Open Enrollment Period:
- The 2018 Medicare & You handbook, which all Medicare beneficiaries should have received. The handbook can also be downloaded online at: https://www.medicare.gov/medicare-and-you/medicare-and-you.html or https://www.medicare.gov/pubs/pdf/10050-Medicare-and-You.pdf
- The Medicare Rights Center: www.medicareinteractive.org
- Your State Health Insurance Assistance Program, which offers independent counseling: https://www.shiptacenter.org
- Kiplinger’s “How to Compare Medicare Advantage Plans“
- Medicare Plan Finder: www.medicare.gov/find-a-plan