2020 has been a crazy year to say the least! Medicare Open Enrollment, however, has not changed, and begins on October 15th and runs through December 7th.
During Open Enrollment, you can change your prescription portion of your Medicare plan, which is commonly known as Part D. You can also enroll in Part D if you didn’t do so when you were first eligible; however, a late-enrollment penalty may apply.
During this time, you can also go back to original Medicare, if you currently have a Medicare Advantage Plan, which is commonly known as Part C, or vice versa (side note: If you do want to switch back to traditional Medicare, make sure you can get a Medigap plan first. If it is not in your initial enrollment period, insurers will use medical underwriting to determine whether they will issue you coverage and at what price). If you do have a Medicare Advantage Plan, you can also choose a different Advantage plan. Besides original Medicare and prescription coverage, a Medicare Advantage plan also can provide additional benefits like vision, dental, and hearing coverage.
Like your home and auto insurance, health insurance plans change their coverage and can increase their costs on an annual basis. Therefore, it is important to check your coverage on your Part D and Advantage plans each year, to make sure your current plan still fits your needs and budget.
This year, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) announced that the average monthly premium for Part D coverage in 2021 is expected to increase slightly to $30.50, which will be the second lowest average premium since 2013.
For your Part D prescription coverage, you want to make sure that your current prescriptions are still covered by your current plan, or any new prescriptions will be covered, as this can change from year to year. By September 30th, your current provider sends out an annual notice of change/evidence of coverage form. This is an important document, as it allows you to see if your prescription coverage and/or benefits are changing for the new plan year.
In 2021, patients with end-stage renal disease (ESRD) or kidney failure, will now be able to enroll in Medicare Advantage plans. This gives patients more choice and can turn out to be a big costs savings for them.
The redesigned Medicare plan finder tool makes it easier for you to shop and compare prices. You can check it out at www.medicare.gov/plan-compare
Even if you are satisfied with your current coverage and make no changes, it is always a good idea to shop and compare prices each year during open enrollment – good luck!