3 Common Mistakes You Won't Want to Make During Medicare Enrollment
Recently, I read an article that discussed common mistakes you can make while preparing a pot of gumbo. I realized that Medicare enrollment, like gumbo, is a delicate process.
Like the famed Southern comfort food, Medicare enrollment requires adherence to specific steps and processes. Failure to do so might affect your enrollment and “mess up” your Medicare.
Today, we’re looking at three of the most common Medicare enrollment mistakes we see people make and how to avoid them.
As always, if you have specific questions about your own personal enrollment, please feel free to reach out to one of our experts. We are here to help with any step of the Medicare process!
Mistake #1: Not Paying Attention to Enrollment Deadlines
There are a few key enrollment dates that are essential for Medicare users. Missing key deadlines can make it more difficult to enroll in the future or incur premium penalties that can last for the rest of your life.
Initial Enrollment Period
The most important date you need to make sure you do not miss is your Initial Enrollment Period (IEP). The IEP is the seven-month period surrounding your 65th birthday. That’s the month of your birthday, the three months before it and the three months after it.
During your IEP, you can enroll in Medicare Parts A, B, and D for the first time. Ignoring your IEP can lead to premium penalty fees that will follow you for your entire Medicare experience.
Medigap Open Enrollment Period
It’s also important to make sure you take advantage of your Medigap Open Enrollment Period if you are planning on enrolling in a Medicare Supplement plan.
You have six months after your 65th birthday to enroll in a Medigap plan, so long as you are previously enrolled in Medicare Part B (which is required for Medigap enrollment).
Missing this enrollment period means that you may have to go through a process known as medical underwriting to enroll in a Medigap plan in the future. Depending on your health, medical underwriting may affect your options. Those with health conditions may also experience coverage denial and increased premium rates.
Want to learn more about important Medicare dates? Check out our previous post: Save the Date for These Medicare Deadlines
Mistake #2: Not Doing a Full Comparison of Your Plan Options
When it comes to Medicare coverage, you have options! Not taking the time to explore your coverage options can lead to unsatisfactory coverage or overpaying for your coverage. When looking at coverage beyond Parts A and B, you have two main options: Medigap or Medicare Advantage.
What is Medigap?
Medigap, or Medicare Supplement, insurance fills coverage gaps in traditional Medicare. It can also help cover deductibles, coinsurance and copays.
Government regulation makes these plans uniform in offerings, but cost and availability can vary. An insurance agent can help you navigate the plans available in your area and explain the differences between different plan offerings.
What is Medicare Advantage?
Medicare Advantage is a type of insurance plan that takes the place of traditional Medicare. Because it’s administered by privately owned insurance companies, coverage offerings can be more unique and include extra perks, such as dental or prescription drug coverage.
There are other differences between the two plans that you should know as you explore your options, including when you can enroll. Luckily, we recently put out another blog post that looks at the core differences between the two and helps explain the pros and cons of each. Check it out here!
Mistake #3: Not Reviewing Your Annual Notice of Change
This tip applies to those who are already enrolled in a Medicare Advantage plan, but we’re including it because not reviewing your Annual Notice of Change can negatively affect your coverage in the future.
The Annual Notice of Change (ANOC) is a document your insurance provider sends out in September every year to alert you to coverage changes taking place in the upcoming calendar year.
Your plan may alter their coverage of your preferred providers, prescriptions, or copays and deductibles, and the ANOC is their way of letting you know. If you don’t review it carefully, you might end up footing the bill for something you thought was covered.
Want to know more about the ANOC? Check out this blog post all about making sense of your Annual Notice of Change.
Luckily, there’s a reason the ANOC comes out in September, and that’s to give you time to enroll in a different plan if your need to make coverage changes. The Annual Enrollment Period takes place every year from October 15 – December 7.
It is, in most cases, the only time per year you can makes changes to your Part D Drug Plan coverage or your Medicare Advantage plan.
Medicare enrollment can seem tricky. Between deadlines and plan options, it can feel like navigating your way through a maze. Luckily, you don’t have to go through it alone.
Whatever stage you're in along Medicare journey, from newly 65 to dissatisfied with your current coverage, we are here to help!
If you’ve already made one of these mistakes, don’t panic. Reach out to our office and we can help you get back on track. Give us a shout and we’ll help you avoid or come back from these three common Medicare mistakes.
Sign Up for the Medicare 101 Email Course
This free, 5-day Medicare 101 course features simple explanations and easy action items, giving you the power to take control of your own Medicare plan.Join Now
Our team of dedicated, licensed agents can help you as little or as much as you need. Whether it’s answering a few questions about Medicare or creating a comprehensive Medicare Planner with you, we are your Medicare Allies.Email Us Now