Tips for making the most of Medicare open enrollment

by Badgley Phelps | Oct 17, 2019

Medicare open enrollment began this week on October 15 and ends December 7, 2019—and the enrollment period is the only time of year Medicare participants can make changes to their plans. That’s why, if you’re a Medicare participant, now is a good time to evaluate your plan to see if you may be able to save money with a few adjustments. The following are several tips on how to make the most out of the Medicare open enrollment period.

  1. Review your income. If you are married filing jointly and your Modified Adjusted Gross Income from your IRS tax return two years ago is higher than $170,000, you will pay higher premiums for Part B and prescription drug coverage. So if your income has declined this year due to retirement, for example, you should contact the Social Security Administration and advise them of your lower income. You may benefit from a premium reduction.
  2. Review your drug coverage. Carol McClure of Financial Designs, Inc., reminds Medicare participants that if they’re on Medicare, a supplement and Part D plan, it’s important to review the Part D plan annually to make sure the plan still covers all of the participant’s prescriptions—particularly if medications have changed during the year.
  3. Check for spousal discounts. If married people are both enrolled in regular Medicare plus a supplement, some companies offer discounts that McClure says can save you up to $40 per month.
  4. Take another look at Medicare Advantage Plans. According to Kevin Peterson of Connexion Insurance Solutions, “Many may not be aware that in 2019, Medicare Advantage Plans were granted more flexibility with the supplemental benefits they are allowed to offer to their members including those things not directly considered medical care, like nutrition services and transportation. That change alone means that there may be more factors to consider when comparing your Medicare plan options.”
  5. Make sure your doctor is still covered. McClure reminds participants to review Medicare Advantage Plan renewal materials to make sure their doctor and hospital are still participating in the plan. If not, this can result in extra costs or the inconvenience of switching to a new doctor and hospital covered by the plan.
  6. Work with a Medicare Advisor. Medicare Advantage Plans will ask participants to make several choices, including whether to select a Health Maintenance Organization (HMO) or Preferred Provider Organization (PPO) plan. Peterson recommends working with a Medicare advisor through the process. “There is no charge for their services—and having someone explain all of the options and assist you in making the right plan selection year after year is invaluable to a person’s overall wellness.”
  7. Remember that Medicare supplement insurance can be changed year-round. “Many clients are not aware that their Medicare supplement insurance, also known as Medigap, can be changed year-round in the State of Washington,” says Peterson. “Medicare supplement plans are standardized, meaning the benefits are identical between the carriers. Many people on a Medicare supplement plan may be overpaying for their benefits. In minutes, a Medicare advisor can tell you if your level and coverage and price are appropriate or if a change is needed.”




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