Medicare’s 2014 Open Enrollment Period will run from October 15 through December 7. During this period, people with Medicare can change their Medicare health and prescription drug plan coverage options. Changes that are made on or before December 7 will take effect on January 1, 2015. The official Medicare site is quite user-friendly and is a good resource to answer your Medicare questions.
The Affordable Care Act’s “Health Insurance Marketplace” is not connected to Medicare. The Marketplace does not affect your Medicare choices or benefits. No matter how you get Medicare, whether through Original Medicare or a Medicare health plan, you won’t have to make any changes. Learn about the 5 ways the Affordable Care Act affects people with Medicare by adding new benefits.
This is also a good time to review your Part D Prescription Drug Plan coverage. If your medications have changed, it may be worth your while to do some research which you can do by creating a drug list online through the Medicare site to see which plans cover your medications and to shop for the best deal.
If you are happy with your Medicare plan, there is no need to take action.
The official Medicare site has done a great job explaining the basics in a user-friendly way. The Medicare Rights Center has posted a useful article that sums up the difference between “traditional Medicare” and a “Medicare Advantage Plan.” The Center offers several useful newsletters that can help you stay informed.
You also have the option, through the MyMedicare portal, to set up your own account to track claims, providers, and manage your health and medications list. The site offers tools to compare nursing homes and Medicare plans.
A word of caution about changing Medicare health (not drug) insurance plans: Private Medicare Advantage Plans (Part C) can start marketing to you as of October 1. These are private HMO or PPO insurance plans that contract to Medicare to provide your services; they are not traditional Medicare. While Advantage plans may include benefits for vision or other coverage, you must work within that company’s existing network of doctors. This can limit your choices.
Before you make any decisions or changes to your Medicare, do your research. Don’t let a fancy marketing brochure fool you. In our experience, patients with Medicare Advantage plans have often had problems with access and coverage for their healthcare needs. We encourage our clients should stick with traditional Medicare: Part A – hospitalization; Part B – outpatient; Part D – prescription drug plan; plus a Medigap supplement policy to cover the 20% Medicare does not cover.
As always, we at Patient Navigator can help through any stage of this process to research and analyze your insurance options.