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Why You Should Compare Medicare Plan Options Every Year

So many people sign up for Medicare when they turn 65 and forget about their coverage options. But what many people don’t realize is that they have a chance to modify their Medicare coverage each year. 

If you are enrolled in Medicare Part C (Medicare Advantage) or Part D (prescription drug coverage), you have the option to compare plans and modify your coverage annually. However, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation, 71% of Medicare beneficiaries did not compare Medicare coverage options in 2018. And this figure increased with age. 84% of Medicare beneficiaries aged 85 and older did not compare plan options that year.

You may be asking yourself why you should compare Medicare plan options every year. To begin, plan availability can change from year to year.

For example, there are 3,834 Medicare Advantage plans offered in 2022. That’s 284 more plans than were offered in 2021, representing an 8% increase in plan availability. Additionally, the average Medicare beneficiary has access to 39 Medicare Advantage plans in 2022, up from 33 in 2021. An increase in plan options could mean better coverage and bigger savings for you.

On the flipside, Medicare plan premiums can also change annually, so you may end up paying more for your plan than you did in previous years. For example, over 70% of Medicare beneficiaries enrolled in a stand-alone prescription drug plan will see an increase in their monthly premium in 2022 if they stay in the same plan.

So why do most Medicare beneficiaries choose not to compare plans? Many people aren’t aware of the importance of comparing plans from one year to the next. Read on to find out how you can optimize your Medicare coverage by comparing Medicare plans annually.

Modifying Your Medicare Advantage Plan Coverage

You may wonder why it is necessary to review your Medicare Advantage plan details on a yearly basis. Well, there are a number of reasons why you should analyze your current Medicare plan and explore your Medicare coverage options each year.

MA plan availability, monthly premiums, and coverage details can change from one year to the other. Therefore, it is important to take a look at your Plan’s Annual Notice of Change (ANOC) each year. You should receive this before the Medicare Open Enrollment Period starts in October.

Additionally, your Medicare coverage needs may change from one year to another. Perhaps you now need to visit a physician or specialist that is not covered under your plan’s provider network. This is just one of the reasons that you should review your Medicare Advantage coverage on a yearly basis.

And believe it or not, you actually have multiple chances to modify your Medicare Advantage coverage.

Annual Election Period/Open Enrollment Period

The Annual Election Period, also known as the Open Enrollment Period, occurs from October 15 to December 7 each year. During this time, you can:

  • Enroll in an MA plan as long as you are already enrolled in Medicare Part A and Part B
  • Leave your MA plan and return to Original Medicare
  • Modify your current MA plan

Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment Period

The Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment Period occurs between January 1 and March 31 each year. During this time, you can:

  • Leave your MA plan and return to Original Medicare
  • Modify your current MA plan

Modifying Your Medicare Part D Drug Coverage

You also have an annual opportunity to modify your Medicare prescription drug plan and minimize your out-of-pocket costs.

Annual Election Period/Open Enrollment Period

As we mentioned, the Medicare Open Enrollment Period occurs from October 15 to December 7 each year. During this time, you can:

  • Join a new Medicare prescription drug plan, switch to a different plan, or drop your drug coverage altogether. 

And if you leave a Medicare Advantage plan that has drug coverage to return to Original Medicare during the Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment Period, you are also given the opportunity to sign up for a stand-alone Part D drug plan at that time.

It is especially important to review your Part D coverage on an annual basis because prescription drug plan benefits can change so frequently. Insurance companies can modify their drug formulary, or the list of prescription drugs that are covered under the plan, as they please.

If your medications are no longer listed under your plan’s list of covered drugs, you may end up paying significantly more out-of-pocket for your prescription drugs.

Medicare Part D plans are always subject to change, so to keep your drug costs in check, be sure to review your Part D plan and its coverage details yearly.

How To Review Your Medicare Advantage Plans and Part D Drug Plans

There are a few steps that you can take each year to review your Medicare coverage details and compare plan options:

  •  Read any Annual Notice of Change (ANOC) that your plan sends out. Pay attention to any changes in coverage, costs, or your plan’s network/service area.
  • Think about your Medicare coverage needs for the coming year. Have you had any significant changes in health? Are you seeing a new physician? Have your preferred doctors changed? Are you taking any new prescription drug medications?
  • Explore coverage options with a licensed insurance agent. The help of an experienced insurance broker, like one of the team members at Medicare Plans Direct, can help to ensure that you are getting the right Medicare health coverage for your individual needs.

Even if you don’t choose to change plans, reviewing your Medicare plans on an annual basis helps you to stay on top of your Medicare coverage and maximize your savings. Reach out to the team at Medicare Plans Direct today for a free consultation.

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