It’s that time of year again. You know, it’s time to review and evaluate your Medicare plan. Is it doing what you need it to do?
Each year, you can make changes to your Medicare Advantage or Medicare prescription drug coverage for the following year. The first Medicare Open Enrollment Period is coming up from October 15–December 7, 2017. Changes will take effect on January 1, 2018.
During Open Enrollment You Can:
■ Change from Original Medicare to a Medicare Advantage Plan.
■ Change from a Medicare Advantage Plan back to Original Medicare.
■ Switch from one Medicare Advantage Plan to another Medicare Advantage Plan.
■ Switch from a Medicare Advantage Plan that doesn’t offer drug coverage to a Medicare Advantage Plan that offers drug coverage.
■ Switch from a Medicare Advantage Plan that offers drug coverage to a Medicare Advantage Plan that doesn’t offer drug coverage.
■ Join a Medicare Prescription Drug Plan.
■ Switch from one Medicare Prescription Drug Plan to another Medicare Prescription Drug Plan.
■ Drop your Medicare prescription drug coverage completely.
Remind me, what’s a Medicare health plan?
Generally, a Medicare health plan is offered by a private company that contracts with Medicare to provide Part A and Part B benefits to people with Medicare who enroll in the plan. Medicare health plans include all Medicare Advantage Plans, Medicare Cost Plans, and Demonstration/Pilot Programs. Programs of All-inclusive Care for the Elderly (PACE) organizations are special types of Medicare health plans. PACE plans can be offered by public or private entities and provide Part D and other benefits in addition to Part A and Part B benefits.
Medicare Advantage Plans cover all Medicare services
Medicare Advantage Plans must cover all of the services that Original Medicare covers. However, if you’re in a Medicare Advantage Plan, Original Medicare will still cover the cost for hospice care, some new Medicare benefits, and some costs for clinical research studies. In all types of Medicare Advantage Plans, you’re always covered for emergency and urgently needed care.
The plan can choose not to cover the costs of services that aren’t medically necessary under Medicare. If you’re not sure whether a service is covered, check with your provider before you get the service.
Most Medicare Advantage Plans offer extra coverage, like vision, hearing, dental, and/or health and wellness programs. Most include Medicare prescription drug coverage (Part D). In addition to your Part B premium, you usually pay a monthly premium for the Medicare Advantage Plan.
In 2017, the standard Part B premium amount is $134 (or higher depending on your income). However, most people who get Social Security benefits pay less than this amount ($109 on average).
Other Medicare health plans
Some types of Medicare health plans that provide health care coverage aren’t Medicare Advantage Plans but are still part of Medicare. Some of these plans provide Medicare Part A (Hospital Insurance) and Medicare Part B (Medical Insurance) coverage, while most others provide only Part B coverage. Some also provide Medicare prescription drug coverage (Part D).
These plans have some of the same rules as Medicare Advantage Plans. However, each type of plan has special rules and exceptions, so contact Medicare to learn more about any of the plans.