Many health insurance plans, such as employer plans, require you to choose your coverage every year. Not Medicare.
Your Medicare coverage renews automatically at the start of each year unless you change it. You don’t have to do anything. You simply stay enrolled in your current Part D or Medicare Advantage plan.
So you might wonder why you hear so much about the Medicare Annual Enrollment Period every fall.
Medicare Annual Enrollment is made for you
To understand why Medicare Annual Enrollment matters, think about this question: "How has my health, lifestyle or budget changed since I picked my current Medicare plan?" A change in any one of these areas could mean that your plan no longer meets your needs. The Annual Enrollment Period is when you can change your plan if you decide to.
There’s another reason that annual enrollment matters. Insurance companies review and adjust their plans annually. They change benefits or costs to better serve their members – and to compete for your business. Your own plan may look different next year than it does today. Coverage or cost changes could bring unwelcome surprises if you allow your plan to renew without reviewing it.
Medicare created the Annual Enrollment Period so you can get the coverage that’s right for you going forward. New Medicare plans are introduced every year. There may be a plan out there now that fits your needs better than the one you currently have. It pays to be sure.
How to take advantage of Medicare Annual Enrollment
Medicare is an important purchase. Besides defining what health services are covered, the plan you choose will have an impact on who provides your health care, what you pay for it and where you go to get it.
You need to research your Medicare coverage options just as you would before buying any major item. For example, you may spend quite a bit of time deciding which car, refrigerator or TV to buy. Choosing a Medicare plan is at least as important as that!
This simple 3-step process can help ease the task of shopping and comparing plans:
- Think about your personal health care needs and the kind of coverage that will meet them. Make a list of the health care services and items you need, including prescription drugs, and how often you need them.
- Check your needs against your current plan benefits. Will your plan still work for your health care needs next year?
- Compare your plan with other plans offered where you live. You can find and compare plans here, as well as view plan benefits side by side.
Make sure you have the right Medicare plan
Your Medicare coverage matters. Take the time you need to make an informed choice during Medicare annual enrollment. Maybe you keep your current plan. Maybe you choose a new plan. Either way, you have from October 15 to December 7 to decide.
Any new coverage changes will then go into effect on January 1 the coming year.
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