When you turn 65, and each year thereafter during the Annual Election Period and Open Enrollment, you will enroll in a Medicare plan. The first thing to know is that you have options! Yes, you can enroll in Original Medicare, but you could also choose between a wide range of Medicare Advantage plans. And because these plans vary from one another in important ways, you shouldn’t rush the decision.
As you conduct your review and shopping process, keep the following facts in mind.
You and your spouse might need different plans. It seems simpler, on the surface, to enroll both of you in the same plan. But because you each have your own individual healthcare needs; this assumption could backfire in the long run. That is especially true if you opt for a Medicare Advantage plan. Because these plans operate through a network, you need to make sure your preferred doctors and facilities are covered. It is likely that you each need your own specialists.
Check each plan’s network. With Original Medicare, you can visit any facility or provider that accepts Medicare. But because Advantage plans work within a network, investigate this coverage before choosing a plan. And then remember that doctors and even entire facilities sometimes drop out of network coverage from one year to the next.
Automatically re-enrolling in your current plan isn’t the best idea. Each year, you have the opportunity to change your Medicare plan. You might assume that because your plan worked fine for you in the previous year, allowing it to automatically renew is a great way to save time.
But Medicare plans can actually change from one year to the next. In particular, your Part D plan’s formulary (list of covered drugs) could change and leave you without coverage for an important prescription. Always review your plan’s formulary before renewing each year.
A second reason to avoid automatic renewals is that failing to shop around could mean that you miss out on a plan that suits you even better. It’s worth a bit of time to investigate all of your options, and to identify the Medicare plan that best fits your needs and budget.
Finally, you should know that guidance is available to you, free of charge! Our team of licensed agents are well versed on Medicare plans and can help you sort through your options.