(Family Features) Medicare’s Open Enrollment period is the one time of year for you to review your current Medicare Advantage or Part D prescription coverage and see if you have better options based on changes to the current plans, your budget or your health needs. The Open Enrollment period, from Oct. 15 through Dec. 7, gives everyone with Medicare the opportunity to review their options and decide whether they want to keep their current plan or make changes for coverage beginning Jan. 1, 2020.
Explore your options before Medicare Open Enrollment ends Dec. 7
Comparing plans pays. Medicare’s most used tool, the Plan Finder, has a new look and features to empower current and future Medicare users to make informed health care decisions, making it easier to learn about and compare coverage options, shop for health and drug plans and feel confident choosing a plan that best meets your needs.
Plan Finder provides a personalized experience through a mobile-friendly and easy-to-use design to help users learn about different options. The tool walks through the enrollment process from start to finish and allows users to view and compare Part D and many of the supplemental benefits that Medicare Advantage plans offer. It also features a star rating system which gives an overall rating of the plan’s quality and performance for the types of services each plan offers.
Should You Change Your Plan for 2020?
Medicare health and drug plans change each year and so can your health needs. Think about your health status and determine if you need to make a change. Ask yourself these questions:
- How does my plan compare to others in covering my drugs?
- Are other plans more affordable?
- Am I interested in having a plan that covers extra benefits like dental and vision?
- Does the network include the specialist or hospital I want for an upcoming surgery?
Consider what matters most to you when it comes to health coverage and be open to exploring your options, like Medicare Advantage plans from private insurers, which allow you to simplify your coverage by combining all your Medicare health and drug coverage into a single plan. Users who choose a Medicare Advantage plan often get extra benefits, like vision, hearing, dental and prescription drug coverage. As another alternative, users who choose Medigap can use any doctor who accepts Medicare and receives help with out-of-pocket costs but need a Part D plan to cover their prescription drugs.
Take Action Before Open Enrollment Ends
Medicare Open Enrollment ends Dec. 7. Now is the time to act if you want to enroll in or make changes to your Medicare health or prescription drug plan for coverage beginning Jan. 1, 2020. If your current coverage still meets your needs, you don’t have to do anything. If you miss the Open Enrollment deadline, you will likely have to wait a full year before you are able to make changes to your Medicare coverage.
For more information, visit Medicare.gov or call 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227). TTY users can call 1-877-486-2048. Help is available 24 hours a day, including weekends. If you need help in a language other than English or Spanish, let the customer service representative know the language. You can also create a MyMedicare.gov account to manage your personal information like medical conditions, allergies and implanted devices or sign up to receive your “Medicare Summary Notices” (eMSNs) electronically.
Help in your community is available. Get personalized health insurance counseling at no cost to you from your State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP). Visit shiptacenter.org or call 1-800-MEDICARE for your SHIP’s phone number.
What’s New with Plan Finder
Join the more than 20 million people who used Medicare’s Plan Finder during the 2018 Open Enrollment period. Here’s what can you find in 2019:
- Personalized search to find and compare plans
- More information about extra plan benefits
- Improved comparison of coverage options
- Simpler drug list built from prescriptions you filled
Get Help Paying for Prescriptions
Anyone who has Medicare can get prescription drug coverage. Some people with limited resources and income may also be able to get Extra Help to pay for monthly premiums, annual deductibles and prescription co-payments related to a Medicare prescription drug plan. If you have limited income and resources, you may qualify for Extra Help to pay for some health care and prescription drug costs.
Medicare estimates more than 2 million people with Medicare may be eligible for Extra Help but aren’t currently enrolled in the program. To qualify, your annual income must be less than $18,735 a year ($25,365 for married couples). Even if your annual income is higher, you may still qualify. Your resources must also be limited to $14,390 ($28,720 for married couples). Resources include bank accounts, stocks and bonds, but not your house, car or life insurance policies.
To see if you qualify, apply online at secure.ssa.gov/i1020/start or call 1-800-772-1213.
Information provided by the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services.