Mistakes to Avoid During Medicare Open Enrollment Period

Medicare Open Enrollment Period

With Medicare’s open enrollment period just around-the-corner, you are likely to be bombarded with promotional emails in your mailbox. The open enrollment period that comes around October 15 and continues through December 7 every year, gives you a chance to make changes in your Current Medicare plan to have a better plan that better suits your needs. While most of you prefer to keep the plan you have but that may not always be the best idea. You should make good use of this Medicare open enrollment period to have a plan exactly according to your need. Going through some previous few years, open enrollment period it was observed that some common mistakes are generally made by quite a large number of people. So, all of you who are interested in making some changes in your Medicare plans during this open enrollment period should try to avoid making these common mistakes.

Don’t Forget to Sign up for Prescription Drug Coverage

It is common for you to ignore Medicare Part D prescription drug plan if you don’t take medications. You may simply believe that why to pay monthly premiums for something that you don’t need or rarely need. However, you should be aware of the fact that when you avoid enrolling in the Medicare Part D plan when you first become eligible, then you could face a lifetime late penalties for the Part D plan when you will finally sign up. Though there is an exception and you might avoid penalties in case you have creditable drug coverage from other sources like from employer-sponsored plan, Indian Health Service, TRICARE, or Veteran’s Health Benefits. In such cases, you can wait to sign up for a Part D plan without facing any penalty. Creditable drug coverage means the coverage should be as good as Medicare. Your health plans need to notify you if they provide creditable drug coverage, so you can decide about signing up for Part D. Thus, if you do not take any medication and you don’t have creditable drug coverage from another plan, then you should select a Medicare Part D plan having lowest premium, so you have the drug coverage at the least cost.

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Carefully Read Your Plan’s Annual Notice of Change

The Medicare Advantage or Part D plan at the end of every year sends out an Annual Notice of Change to every enrollee. The Annual Notice of Change is a document that outlines changes regarding cost and coverage that will be applicable in the new year. You should carefully read your Annual Notice of Change every year to have clarity on your plan’s premium amount, coinsurance, deductible, and copayments. Besides, the plan’s premium cost and out-of-pocket costs are not cheap, and any hike on any of these amounts could leave you shock and surprise when your new plan will kick from the 1st of January. If due to slight negligence you lose coverage for medications that you take regularly may even cost you more in out of pocket expenses. Thus, you should carefully read the Annual Notice of Change every year to have clarity of price and coverage of your drug plan and to make sure that they are covered for the drugs they take regularly.

Don’t Sign up for Plan same as your Friend or Spouse

It is commonly observed that most of you sign up for a particular health plan simply based on the recommendation of your friends or partner. It is not at all necessary that if your spouse or friend had a good experience with a plan, then you too will find the plan good. Some of you even select a health plan based on its brand name and market reputation. All these criteria of selecting a health plan is not a wise thing to do because health plan should always be chosen and purchased based on one’s health condition and expected health care requirements in the coming year. You should always avoid getting influenced by your partner and friend’s choice and should always decide for yourself. You know your health conditions as well as your medical history and might be visiting a specific doctor for treatment and taking medications prescribed as per your health condition. So, you should select a plan tailored to your health condition and ongoing treatment and that first and foremost meet your personal needs.

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Pick a Plan that has Your Medications and Preferred Healthcare Providers in the Network

You need to be aware that the Medicare Advantage plan is not like Original Medicare that works the same everywhere in the country. Both Medicare Advantage and Medicare Part D plans work in local networks, so you are allowed to visit in-network healthcare providers or you will end up paying for their visits out of pocket, which can quickly add up to a huge amount. Besides, the plan network can anytime change so a Medicare plan any time drop a provider from its network if any disagreement occurs over contractual requirements. Thus, you are advised to select a Medicare plan that has all your healthcare providers in the network, so you avail medical services form the doctors you know and trust. If there is a doctor you wish to visit for a particular treatment, then you should pick a Medicare plan that has that doctor in its network.

Shop around to Find a Plan Exactly Tailored to your Need

Most of you think that you already have a perfect Medicare plan, and you don’t need to change anything in your plan. Since it covered all your medical needs last year, was available at an affordable price, and also provided satisfactory customer services, you think your plan to be best. It is not at all necessary that a plan, which was best for you in the last year, will also be the best in the coming year. Besides, there is stiff competition among the health insurance companies that could work to your advantage. There is a good chance that you might find several Medicare plans that meet your needs. You should invest some time to find and compare all the Medicare plans that meet your needs and choose a plan that saves you money.

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However, the biggest mistake that is made by most of you during the Medicare open enrollment period is that you avoid making any change in your plan, and stay with your current plan without investigating it. During the Medicare open enrollment period, you should always look out for ways through which you can obtain better care at an affordable price.

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