Table of Contents:

  1. Annual Enrollment Period: Your Options
  2. Annual Enrollment Period: Resources
  3. Annual Enrollment Period: Questions to Ask
  4. More Questions about Medicare’s Annual Enrollment Period?

Medicare beneficiaries have at least one opportunity each year to review their plans, assess their options, and potentially select new coverage. Medicare’s Annual Enrollment Period (AEP) runs from October 15th through December 7th. Are you prepared?

Annual Enrollment Period: Your Options

The Annual Enrollment Period presents Medicare beneficiaries with the following options:

  • Switch from Parts A and Part B to a Medicare Advantage plan
  • Switch from a Medicare Advantage plan back to Parts A and B
  • Switch from one Medicare Advantage plan to another
  • Switch from one Medicare Part D plan to another
  • Enroll in Medicare Part D (if the beneficiary did not enroll during their first period of eligibility)

Even beneficiaries who are generally pleased with their coverage may want to consider one or more of these options during the annual enrollment window. They certainly shouldn’t rule any out. After all, Medicare plans are far from static. Part D plans, in particular, can change considerably from one year to another. Many beneficiaries will benefit from keeping a close eye on these plans to ensure they can save money on necessary drugs each year.

Annual Enrollment Period: Resources

Medicare beneficiaries don’t have to wait until October 15th to start reviewing their coverage and assessing alternative options. Resources like Marigold are available year-round to help those who are eligible for Medicare reflect on their healthcare needs and plan for the future. As AEP approaches, it’s also important to leverage the guides provided by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) and your private insurance provider.

The CMS updates its “Medicare and You” handbook each year to reflect adjustments in cost-sharing models and coverage. Beneficiaries who haven’t opted for a digital handbook should be sure to check the mail for a print copy. They can also access the government’s Medicare Plan Finder year-round to review supplemental insurance options in their zip code. In addition to pricing and coverage details, the Medicare Plan Finder shows user ratings for Medicare Advantage and Part D plans. Medicare-eligible individuals and beneficiaries deciding between multiple options may learn from the experience of other beneficiaries who have already been in a similar situation. Additional literature from private insurers will also address any changes that could affect Medicare Advantage or Part D beneficiaries.

Annual Enrollment Period: Questions to Ask?

All of these materials, along with a thorough, objective assessment of one’s own healthcare needs and financial resources, can help Medicare-eligible individuals make informed decisions and answer the following questions:

Do I have any issues with my current coverage?

Some beneficiaries know long before October 15th rolls around that they want out of their current plan. Access to specialists, broader drug formularies, and more manageable cost-sharing models are all reasons someone might make a change. Unexpected end-of-year changes can inspire a switch too.

Can I afford my current coverage?

Don’t just look at monthly and annual premiums. Beneficiaries should also take care to consider whether any unexpected costs could turn a favorite plan into a financial burden.

Has my health changed considerably in the last year?

As beneficiaries age, many find themselves requiring far more robust coverage than when they first signed up for Medicare. All enrollees should use the Annual Enrollment period (and the period leading up to it) to consider how their changing health could affect their healthcare needs.

Have I experienced another life-changing event?

Other major events like a divorce or the death of a spouse can dramatically change a beneficiary’s financial situation. Beneficiaries need to determine if changes like these have had any effect on whether or not they can afford their usual coverage.

More Questions About Medicare’s Annual Enrollment Period?

CMS provides a useful checklist to ensure Medicare beneficiaries have both the insights and personal information necessary to enter the Annual Enrollment Period with confidence. Still have questions? Contact Marigold today to discuss your options with a licensed sales agent at IHC Specialty Benefits.


Information adapted from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services