Medicare open enrollment offers an opportunity for you to evaluate your coverage options. Plans can change and it is important to review any notices regarding changes that you receive from your insurance company. To join in a new plan, you can either enroll through Medicare or by calling the new plan. If you elect not to make any changes for the next coverage year, you do not need to do anything.
Open Enrollment begins on October 15th and ends on December 7th. This is the only time of the year when everyone on Medicare can makes changes to their coverage for the upcoming year. New coverage will begin on January 1.
October 1- 15: Review your plan and compare your coverage with other options.
October 15 – December 7: If you wish to change your coverage for 2014, this is the period to enroll in the new plan.
January 1, 2014: New coverage goes into effect – including changes you made or your plan made.
Medicare Part D is supplemental coverage offered by private insurance companies that helps pay for prescription costs.
You may have questions about how MNsure, the new Health Insurance Marketplace might affect your coverage. MNsure is for people who don’t have health insurance already through a job or government program. This will not change any of your benefits or coverage. The enrollment periods for MNsure and Medicare do overlap, so you should make certain that any plans you are reviewing are Medicare plans and not through MNsure.
It is illegal for someone who knows that you have Medicare to sell you a plan through the marketplace. Since the enrollment periods overlap, this may invite more fraudulent activity. Bogus websites that purport to be part of the exchanges have been appearing online for more than a year. Do not enter any personal or financial information into a website that says you can purchase a policy before the open enrollment period.
Shop around for your Medigap Policy
Medicare Supplement Insurance policies obtained through private insurance companies (also called Medigap) offer coverage and services that aren’t provided by Original Medicare including copayments, coinsurance, and deductibles.
A Medigap policy has an additional premium on top of your Part B premium. It also only covers one person. Be sure to compare plans and policies – premiums can vary widely from company to company.
Finding an Advantage Plan
Another option for coverage is a Medicare Advantage Plan, often called “Part C”. These plans are administered by private insurance companies and include “Part A” (Hospital Insurance) and “Part B (Medical Insurance). All Medicare Advantage plans cover all of the services covered under Original Medicare (except hospice care and some clinical research studies). Prescription drug coverage is usually offered through Medicare Advantage Plans and if a particular plan doesn’t, you can join a Medicare Drug Prescription Drug Plan. Be sure you don’t enroll in a Medicare Advantage Plan that includes prescription drug coverage AND a Medicare Prescription Drug Plan. This will dis-enroll you from the Advantage Plan and will enroll you in Original Medicare. You also can’t utilize a Medicare Supplement Insurance Plan (also called Medigap) while on an Advantage Plan. Private insurance companies that offer these plans are paid by Medicare a fixed amount each month and must follow Medicare’s rules. However, these plans might charge different out-of-pockets costs and may have difference policies regarding referral for specialists and generally how you obtain medical services.
Your plan must notify you of changes before the next enrollment year through two documents called “Evidence of Coverage” (EOC) and the “Annual Notice of Change” (ANOC). The EOC includes details on coverage and costs and the ANOC includes any changes in those coverage or costs.
Before joining a Medicare Advantage Plan, make sure you understand how the plan works. For more information on a particular plan, you can call the plan administrator and request a “Summary of Benefits” (SB) document. If you need further assistance, contact the Minnesota State Health Insurance Assistance Program – Senior Linkage Line at 1-800-333-2433.
Open Enrollment for Medicare Advantage Plans is between October 15 – December 7 and coverage will begin on January 1.