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Health and Wellness Newsletter - November 2016
Medicare Open Enrollment

Medicare Open Enrollment

The Open Enrollment period for Medicare is upon us. Below are some helpful tips as you research and select the plan that’s best for you in 2017. As always, FamilyWize serves as your source for savings on prescription medications, especially if you find yourself in the “donut hole” of Medicare Part D.

  • Overall health: When you decided what kind of Medicare coverage to sign up for, you probably based it on your current health status. Has that changed at all? If you experienced unexpected health situations this year–and struggled to afford your care, and/or did not receive the quality of care you desire–that might be a sign that it is time to find a better plan for your needs.

  • Costs: Again, you may have picked a fairly expensive plan to start off, worrying that you might have an unforeseen health issue. Are your financial circumstances the same? Are you visiting the doctor as much as you anticipated? Or perhaps you are dishing out copays at every turn, and paying deductibles you never anticipated. Is this a one-time thing, or is it a signal of more to come? You may want to switch to a more affordable option.

  • Provider network/plan flexibility: You may have picked Original Medicare when you were doing a lot of traveling, and wanted the flexibility of accessing services all over the country. If you’re staying closer to home now, or if your travel is predictable and limited, you may want to switch to a Medicare Advantage plan. Medicare Advantage plans are usually more restricted in terms of provider networks near home, but may be a better fit for your needs now. Or the opposite may be true–you’re traveling a lot more than you used to and a Medicare Advantage plan is no longer a good fit. Consider your future plans as well. If you’re envisioning lots of long trips abroad as soon as you retire, you may want to switch to a different type of coverage during this year’s Open Enrollment period.

  • Prescription drug benefits: You may have opted not to sign up for Part D drug plan when you first retired, figuring that you would “self-insure.” Are you only taking generics, or has a physician advised you to look into a new brand-name medication? Have you investigated whether you are eligible for VA benefits? Have you looked at any Medicare Advantage plans–which often include drug coverage already? Now is a good time to determine what type of drug coverage makes the most sense for your situation. Almost everyone eventually needs prescription drugs, whether for a minor illness or a chronic condition. If you are not already covered in some way, get covered during Open Enrollment! Be advised, however, that you may be subject to a late enrollment penalty fee for not enrolling in a Part D drug plan when you first became eligible.

  • Learn more about enrollment rules: It’s a lot easier to switch from a Medigap/Medicare Supplement policy to a Medicare Advantage (MA) plan than the reverse (switching from MA to Medigap). This is because in most states, if you have been enrolled in an MA plan for more than one year, you are unlikely to be able to enroll in a Medigap plan, which helps many people fill the cost gaps in Original Medicare. Before making any decisions about switching your coverage during Open Enrollment, try taking the Medicare Questionnaire for access to fast, trustworthy professional advice about choosing the best plan for your needs.

  • Source: MyMedicareMatters.org / NCOA

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