If you have existing Medicare coverage, you may not be looking to make any changes for the next year. However, it would be best to consider your options during the annual open enrollment period (October 15 to December 7). The best program for you this year may not be the best one for you next year. Here are four ways to adjust your Medicare coverage.
1) Choose a Different Medicare Part D Plan
Part D covers prescription drugs for Original Medicare enrollees. Roughly 90% of Medicare Advantage plans have built-in Part D coverage. However, if you join a Medicare Private-Fee-for-Service plan (PFFS) or Medicare Medicare Savings Account (MSA) plan, you can buy a separate prescription drug plan to complement it.
During the annual open enrollment, Part D users can do the following:
- Switch to a different drug program
- Enroll for the first time — if they didn’t enroll in Part D during their initial enrollment period (may be subject to late enrollment penalties), or
- Cancel their Part D coverage entirely.
Also, during the Medicare Advantage open enrollment (January to March), you may switch to another Medicare Advantage plan with different prescription coverage. Or, you may switch to Original Medicare and choose from any of the separate Part D plans in your area.
If you’re happy with your current Part D plan, it’s best to review your open enrollment options still. Your plan’s premium and the deductible, copays, and coinsurance, could all change in the coming year. Plus, your plan’s formulary could be changing, and your medical situation may look different from last year.
2) Choose a Different Medicare Advantage Plan
Medicare Advantage (MA) plans have been increasing in popularity over the past decade. If you have coverage under an MA plan, you can switch to a different program during open enrollment. The plan you currently have might have been the best choice when you first joined, but circumstances and premiums can change yearly. It’s best to compare the options during open enrollment.
For example, you can switch from an MA plan that doesn’t contain prescription drug coverage to a program that does, or vice versa. There is also a Medicare Advantage open enrollment period during the first quarter of every year — when you can switch to another MA plan or revert to Original Medicare.
3) Switch from Medicare Advantage to Original Medicare
If you’re on Medicare Advantage, you can switch to Original Medicare during open enrollment or the Medicare Advantage open enrollment period at the beginning of the new year.
But if you have poor health, check out which Medigap plans are available (Medicare supplement insurance) before deciding to switch to Original Medicare. Without a Medigap plan, your out-of-pocket expenses under Original Medicare could be substantial — depending on your needs.
4) Switch from Original Medicare to Medicare Advantage
Maybe you’re like most Medicare beneficiaries who have Original Medicare, but you wish to try Medicare Advantage. During open enrollment, you may switch to any MA plan that’s available in your area so long as you don’t have the end-stage renal disease (ESRD). According to medicareresources.org, this will change in 2021.
Once you switch, you have one year to switch back to Original Medicare, known as a “trial period.” During this period, you still get access to guaranteed-issue Medigap coverage if you had a supplement plan before you switched to MA.
Note: Any changes made during annual open enrollment will kick in on January 1.
You can only change your coverage once during the MA open enrollment period. The change will kick in on the first day of the next month.
Speak with a Licensed Medicare Agent
No matter your situation, it’s best to check the available options during open enrollment. If the choices seem overwhelming or confusing, you can speak with a licensed agent about your Medicare coverage. Call Trusted Senior Specialists at (844) 325-8710.