A Simple Guide to the 2019 Annual Enrollment Period for Medicare
From October 15 to December 7, you have the opportunity to make changes to your Medicare drug plan and Medicare Advantage plan. This window of opportunity is called the Annual Enrollment Period (AEP).
Popular news outlets tend to also call this Medicare open enrollment, but that’s not actually the same thing as the Annual Enrollment Period. You can learn more about open enrollment here.
Details aside, this is an excellent time to re-evaluate your Medicare healthcare plans. Why?
Reviewing your healthcare plans can:
- Save you money on your health and drug coverage
- Make sure your favorite doctors will be in your network next year
- Help you compare next year’s benefits to other plan options
- Remind you to make important changes, like address changes or beneficiary adjustments
Here’s a very simple guide to the 2019 Annual Enrollment Period (AEP) for Medicare.
Step 1: Take a look at your Medicare Advantage plan
I can’t stress this enough! Even if you love your MA plan, that doesn’t mean you’ll love it next year. MA benefits aren’t required to stay the same, so those benefits may change for next year. If you don’t take a minute to review those changes, you could end up stuck in a plan you don’t like.
During the AEP, you can make these changes to your MA plan:
- Switch from Original Medicare to a Medicare Advantage plan
- Switch from a Medicare Advantage plan back to Original Medicare
- Switch from a Medicare Advantage plan to a different Medicare Advantage plan
- Switch from a Medicare Advantage plan that doesn’t include prescription drug coverage to one that does, and vice versa
Working with a licensed agent like one of our agents here at Medicare Allies will help you shop the options to see what plan might be the best for you and your budget.
Step 2: Take a look at your Part D drug plan
If you’re on Original Medicare or your MA plan does not include drug coverage, odds are you have a Part D drug plan.
Like MA plans, your drug coverage is not required to stay the same each year. Benefits and prices can and do change every year.
During the AEP, you can:
- Enroll in a stand-alone Medicare Part D Prescription Drug Plan
- Switch from one stand-alone Medicare Part D Prescription Drug Plan to another one
- Drop your prescription drug coverage
Running a prescription drug comparison is easy once you know how to do it. You can download our tutorial by clicking the link below.
If you’re not great with technology, please contact us, and we’ll run a comparison for you!
Step 3: Meet with your insurance agent for an annual review
If you have an insurance agent, odds are you’ll be seeing him or her during the AEP to make changes to your health and drug plans.
This gives you the change to make any important changes. For example, if you moved this year, you can tell your agent now to change your addresses on file. If you had a granddaughter and need to add her as a beneficiary on a plan, you can do that now, too.
It’s always a good idea to see your agent yearly to make updates like these.
At Medicare Allies, we also do free policy reviews for every kind of senior insurance, so if you want an extra set of eyes, please contact us!
Additional Tips for the 2019 AEP
If you have an agent, he or she will make sure you cover all your bases. However, you’ll want to make sure you do a few extra things as you review your health and drug plans.
Double-check your provider networks.
If you have a network (particularly if you’re on a Medicare Advantage plan), you want to make sure your preferred doctors are in that network. If not, you can shop around to see if another plan has a better network without sacrificing the benefits or cost of your current plan.
Make sure your drug plan covers your prescriptions.
While this is something your agent should go over in your annual review, it’s important to take a look at any new medications you might be on. Some Medicare Part D drug plans charge more for certain medications, so if there have been any changes, you’ll want to verify what your costs will be.
Double-check your plan’s rating.
All Part D Drug Plans and Medicare Advantage plans are rated on a scale of 1-5. The rating is based on overall quality and customer satisfaction, with 5 stars being the best. You can always double check the rating of your plan to make sure you’re choosing the company that’s right for you.
Don’t fall for the lowest premium.
Premiums are only one part of your healthcare expenses. You also have deductibles, coinsurance, and copays. Don’t make the mistake of choosing a plan because it has the lowest monthly premium only to find out later that your deductible is absurdly high. Instead, you want to find the plan that will have the lowest out-of-pocket costs for the year.
Again, your agent will guide you through these things, but if you want to take charge of your health plans, make sure you’re covering your bases.
Do you want personalized help this AEP? Our licensed agents are more than willing to help you evaluate your plans. Simply call, email, or start a chat with us.
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.