The open enrollment period to enroll for Medicare plans starts from October 15 and ends on December 7 every year. This is the best time for individuals to make changes from the Medicare plan they currently have to a plan that best suits their needs. During this period people are likely to receive innumerable advertisements and promotions. However, in most of the cases, people don’t just pay any attention to these advertisements and want to stick with the plan they have. Though that may not be the best idea always, and people should take the time to wade through that information to get a better deal. Find below some of the common mistakes that are committed by the majority of the people during the Medicare open enrollment period and they should look out for the ways to avoid them.
Not Signing Up for Prescription Drug Coverage
The most obvious response of people is to not purchase prescription drug coverage with a Medicare Part D plan if they don’t take medications. The idea behind this is why to pay a monthly premium for a plan which they probably don’t need. However, they should know that they could face a lifetime of Part D late penalties when they will finally sign up. Though there is an exception, if people have creditable drug coverage from another source, then they can wait to sign up for a Part D plan without facing penalties. Creditable coverage means that the drug coverage is equally good as Medicare and their health plans have to notify them upon meeting this standard, so that they can make an informed decision regarding signing up for Part D. Thus, individuals who do not take prescription medications and do not have creditable coverage from another plan should opt for the Part D plan with the lowest premium so they get the coverage at the least cost.
Ignoring your Annual Notice of Change
Medicare Advantage or Part D plan at the end of every year sends out a document comprising of an annual notice of the change. The document outlines the changes that will be effective from the new year regarding the costs and coverage of the plan. There might be a hike in plan’s price, premiums, deductibles, coinsurance, and copayments that may surprise people on becoming effective from January 1. There is also a possibility that individual may lose coverage for services or medications which they use regularly and this might cost them more in out-of-pocket expenses. Thus, people should carefully read their annual notice of change every year to ensure that they can afford the updated plan in the coming year and to ensure that they are covered for the healthcare they need.
Signing Up Same Plan as your Spouse or Friend
People often sign up for a health plan based on the recommendation of their friends or spouse or a neighbor. Some people even select a health plan based on their brand name and reputation. Though this must work for better coverage benefits and good customer service, but people should not let these recommendations dominate their decision completely. Everybody’s health is different and so people need healthcare depending upon it. Besides, people generally do not share their medical history and they may not be on the same medications or available healthcare services from the same doctor. Thus, their medical needs will be different from their friend, spouse, or neighbor. Therefore, people need a health plan that is tailored to their healthcare conditions and so they must select a plan that meets their personal needs first and foremost.
People don’t Switch Plan to Keep their Doctor
Medicare Advantage and Part D plan unlike Original Medicare is not the same everywhere in the country. These plans work in local networks and it means that the Medicare Advantage plan could drop a provider from its network simply because there is disagreement over contractual requirements. Thus, people who wish to save money and keep the doctor they know and trust, then they should pick a plan including their preferred doctor in its network.
Do Not Shop for a New Plan
People generally think they have the perfect plan because it covered all their healthcare needs the previous year and came at a reasonable cost. Besides, the plan also delivered satisfactory customer service. However, if a plan proved best for a person in the previous year, then the same doesn’t need to prove best again in the coming year. Health insurance companies work intending to provide quality healthcare but their objective is also to earn a profit. Health insurers compete with each other in the market and this might work for the people’s advantage. There may be several plans available in the market that may meet the needs of the people. Thus, people should take time to compare the costs and benefits of these plans so that they pick a plan that serves them best and saves their money.
People should always be open to making changes in their plan during Medicare’s Open Enrollment period. It is always better for people to have a close look at the plans available so that they get better care at an affordable price.