Preparing for the Medicare Annual Election Period

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Thinking about the upcoming Medicare annual election period probably makes your stomach hurt. Chances are that you’ve finally just relaxed into summer with family, and perhaps you’ve gotten some travel in. Who wants to think about Medicare plans for 2019?

Nonetheless, the Annual Election Period is swiftly approaching.
You have an opportunity to change your Medicare Advantage plan or Part D drug plan each fall. Here’s some tips about how to stay organized and not get distracted by the flurry of advertisements headed your way:

Talk to your doctor’s office about your current plan
If you are enrolled in Original Medicare and a Medigap plan, this conversation should be easy. Simply ask: “Will you still be taking Original Medicare next year?” If he or she says yes, your current coverage will continue to serve you well.

But what if you are enrolled in a Medicare Advantage plan that changes benefits, premiums, networks and formularies every year?

Find out if your doctors are still in network. Doctors can change networks at any time of year. Consumers never know when that might be coming around for renewal.

Also, be on the lookout for the Annual Notice of Change packet
for 2019 Medicare annual election period. You will receive an Annual Notice of Change in the mail for your Part D drug plan or Medicare Advantage plan (if you are enrolled in one.)

Medicare insurance carriers must send them to you by September 30 each year. This notice well tell you what’s changing with your plan next year.

Usually the very top letter in the packet is a summary of the changes listed side by side from this year’s benefits to next year’s benefits. If the changes seem minor to you, chances are you don’t need to do anything at all. However, if something major is changing, then you’ll want to know about it soon enough that you can contact an agent to make changes.

The annual election period last from October 15th – December 7th, and any changes made occur on January 1st. This time frame is different than from a few years ago, so don’t forget about that and think you can change all the way up to December 31st because you can’t.

Make a list of your medications
If your prescriptions have changed since last year, then you will want to re-evaluate whether your current drug plan is still giving you the best bang for your buck. You can enter your list of medications into the Medicare Plan Finder Tool online.

How to Switch from Medicare Advantage to Medigap
If you are enrolled in a Medicare Advantage plan, and you want to switch from Medicare Advantage to Medigap, you can use the Annual Election Period to return to Original Medicare. You can choose a new Part D drug plan as well. However, for the Medigap plan, you will need to apply and in most cases will need to answer health questions. There is no guarantee that you will be accepted.

For this reason, we always help our clients apply for the Medigap plan first with a January 1st effective date. Once we are certain that this new Medigap application is approved, then we help you apply for a Part D drug plan which will automatically disenroll you from your Medicare Advantage plan.

If you are not able to qualify for a Medigap plan due to health conditions, you can consider switching to a different Medicare Advantage plan. People with standalone drug plans can also use the Medicare Annual Election Period to change from one Part D plan to another.

Get Help with the Medicare Annual Election Period 2019
Keeping up with your annual Medicare decisions is sort of like doing your taxes. If you keep good records the whole year long, you make everything so much easier for yourself to gather together what you need at tax filing time. It’s fair to say that your health is just as important., Start pulling together now what you’ll need. You’ll find that you won’t have to dread the annual election period because you’ll already be prepared.

Need help with evaluating your options? Contact a friendly, no-hassle agent here at Boomer Benefits to walk you through your options.

Boomer Benefits provides free claims support for life for all of our Medigap and Medicare Advantage policyholders so that you are never alone in dealing with Medicare.

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19 thoughts on “Preparing for the Medicare Annual Election Period

  1. Are you considering a Medicare plan change this fall? If so, we’d love to hear what things are motivating you to make a change.

    • My dad was just recently asking me when he would be able to switch drug plans. He just recently got on a new medication that is not on his Part D plan – should I tell him to wait until October to call you guys?

    • Yes the annual election period is a great time for him to shop that plan. We can help him shop his Medigap plan, if he has one, and then also run a list of medication through the plan finder tool to see which drug plans next year will be a better fit and cover the meds that he needs.

    • Yes those first few months can be the hardest, and then the election period confuses people in the fall. Once he gets that part down, it’s much easier from there because it’s just a review.

  2. Man, Medicare is kind of complicated, but you described Medicare plan changes really well – especially why Medicare changes. Thank you!

  3. We just went through this and honestly…if we look to change down the road, THIS video is going to come in handy. This was seriously detailed and helpful!

    • Thanks! Hopefully the video can be a great refresher for people whenever the Annual Election Period rolls around each year.

  4. The problem I have with most commercial plans is they are blood suckers! I will not turn over any of my Medicare Part A or Part B to any for profit company due to their over billing my Medicare plan and charging too much for things that I can order outside the USA for 20% of what they charge! My ethical philosophy will not let me participate in these windfalls! Case and point; I needed knee braces! The US Company wanted to charge $700. I ordered the braces from Sweden for & $65. This is wrong!!! I don’t need some one to manage my Medicare either because opens the door for other exorbitant bill of Medicare!

    But thanks for the info anyway!

    • There are many people who do not like Medicare Advantage plans for this same reason. Nonetheless, over one third of beneficiaries are now enrolled in this type of plan. I wish more people took the time to do the kind of research you have done JD! We have a small group of clients who are great researchers and the amount of money they save by getting their medications from Canada is significant. Thanks for adding your two cents here!

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