Now is the time to think about whether you are in the right plan or whether a new plan could save you money. Medicare’s Open Enrollment Period, in which you can enroll in or switch plans, runs from October 15 to December 7.
During this period you may enroll in a Medicare Part D (prescription drug) plan or, if you currently have a plan, you may change plans. Also, during the seven-week period, you can return to traditional Medicare (Parts A and B) from a Medicare Advantage (Part C, managed care) plan, enroll in a Medicare Advantage plan, or change Advantage plans. Beneficiaries can go to medicare.gov or call 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227) to make changes in their Medicare prescription drug and health plan coverage.
Even beneficiaries who have been satisfied with their plans in 2017 need to review their choices for 2018. Be sure to carefully look over the plan’s “Annual Notice of Change” letter. Prescription drug plans can change their premiums, deductibles, the list of drugs they cover, and their plan rules for covered medications, exceptions, and appeals. Medicare Advantage plans can change their benefit packages, as well as their provider networks. You can leave a Medicare Advantage plan in one of three ways:
• Call the plan you wish to leave and ask for a disenrollment form
• Call 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227) to request that your disenrollment be processed over the phone
• Call the Social Security Administration or visit your Social Security Office to file your disenrollment request
Remember that fraud perpetrators will inevitably use the Open Enrollment Period to try to gain access to individuals’ personal financial information. Medicare beneficiaries should never give their personal information out to anyone making unsolicited phone calls selling Medicarerelated products or services or showing up on their doorstep uninvited. If you think you have been a victim of fraud or identity theft, contact Medicare. For more information on Medicare fraud, medicare.gov/forms-help-and-resources/report-fraudand-abuse/fraud-and-abuse.html.
Here are more resources for navigating the Open Enrollment Period:
• The 2018 Medicare & You handbook, which all Medicare beneficiaries should have received. The handbook can also be downloaded online at medicare.gov/medicare-and-you/medicareand-you.html or medicare.gov/pubs/pdf/10050-Medicare-and-You.pdf
• The Medicare Rights Center: medicareinteractive.org
• Your State Health Insurance Assistance Program, which offers independent counseling: shiptacenter.org
• Kiplinger’s “How to Compare Medicare Advantage Plans“
• Medicare Plan Finder: medicare.gov/find-aplan
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