Medicare Open Enrollment will continue until December 7, 2020. This is the perfect time to start considering making a change in coverage if you are not pleased with your current plan. All Medicare recipients should have received the Annual Notice of Change. This notice lets you know if there are any changes to your current plan. Even if you are pleased with your current coverage, review this notice in case there are changes to your coverage, cost, or service area.

When considering making changes, you should account for your individual needs. Think about the medications you take, the pharmacies you use, any specialists that you see. You can input all of this information into the Medicare.gov portal and find plans that meet your specific needs. 

If you need assistance with identifying a plan that will meet your financial and medical needs, you can contact APPRISE at 1-800-783-7067 for a consultation. APPRISE counselors are completely virtual due to COVID-19 and an appointment is necessary to talk through your options. You can always contact 1-800-MEDICARE for any concerns about coverage.

If this is your first time on Medicare, you have an advantage over those already locked in a plan. New enrollees have three months before Medicare initiates and three months after Medicare initiates to pick a plan. Additional information regarding plans in your area can be found in your Medicare & You Handbook or in the online portal. All plan changes go into effect Jan 1, 2021 unless you are a new enrollee and have yet to pick a plan. 

It is important to note there are penalties if you do not enroll in Medicare when you are eligible and decide at a later date to enroll. These penalties vary depending on the time between when you were eligible and when you decided to enroll, as well as which plans you are trying to enroll in. 

What does Medicare cover?

Medicare A covers inpatient hospital stays, skilled nursing care, hospice care, and home health services. Part A is free to Medicare recipients. 

Medicare B helps to cover outpatient medical treatment, durable medical equipment, and preventive services. Part B charges a coinsurance (approximately $150/month).

Medicare D helps with coverage for prescriptions, including vaccines. Part D has a cost that is charged separately than the coinsurance cost that is paid for Part B.

Medicare Advantage (aka Medicare C) is an all-in-one bundle that expands Original Medicare (Parts A +B) and adds the benefits of Medicare D. This typically restricts you to seeing doctors within the network and covers additional vision, dental, and hearing benefits.  Advantage plans are an additional cost added to the Part B coinsurance. 

Important Dates: 

December 7, 2020 deadline for open enrollment

January 1, 2021 new coverage begins

March 31, 2021 If you have Medicare Advantage, you may change your policy once by this date

Relevant Informational Sites:

Medicare Plan Finder https://www.medicare.gov/plan-compare/#/?lang=en&year=2021 

Medicare & You 2021 Handbook https://www.medicare.gov/Pubs/pdf/10050-Medicare-and-You.pdf 

Medicare Blog http://www.medicare.gov/blog 

Social Security (to initiate enrollment) http://ssa.gov/ 

State Health Insurance Assistance Programs  https://www.shiptacenter.org/