Medicare Checklist: What you need to do before Dec. 7th to Switch or Review Plans
As you’re probably already aware, the deadline to add or switch Medicare Advantage or Medicare Part D plans is December 7th. What you may not know is that even if you are satisfied with your current coverage, there are a number of things you should be doing now to ensure that you won’t be stuck with unexpected or avoidable health care expenses after January 1st.
Did you carefully read your Annual Notice of Changes?
I always caution my clients that from year to year, plans may make changes to service or prescription coverage, to provider networks, premiums, or co-pay and co-insurance amounts. These changes can be easy to miss if one isn’t paying close attention. Usually they are are laid out in detail in a document — called the Annual Notice of Changes (ANOC) — that your Medicare coverage provider is required to send to you every September.
The problem with Annual Notices of Change is that they are — let’s face it — boring. Despite plain language and other standardization requirements, it can still be confusing to find the information relevant to your interests quickly and easily. Most people just glance at them, or more often toss them away.
So if sifting through your ANOC to figure out all the obscure or teeny-tiny changes isn’t your idea of a fun Saturday afternoon, what do you do? Luckily, that’s where your health insurance agent comes in.
Expert help in figuring out your Medicare Advantage plan’s 2015 coverage is just a phone call or e-mail away.
We can compare your coverage and out-of-pocket expenses from year to year and summarize the changes for you in a way that’s easy to understand, so you won’t be left guessing.
We can also look at the plans that are going to be available in 2015 and see if there might be another option for you (either with the same insurance carrier, or with another carrier in your market) that is cheaper, has lower out of pocket costs, covers more of your doctors and prescriptions, or all of the above.
Medicare open enrollment is a great time to re-evaluate your existing coverage and make sure it matches up well with what you need.
You might be paying for more coverage than you need, or changes in your health may warrant adding additional coverage. You might want to raise or lower your deductible in the coming year, depending on your general wellness trend and expectations you might have.
If, for example, you know you’re going to need a knee replacement in the coming year, you might want to move to a plan with a premium, but a larger network and lower out of pocket costs. This might cost you more in monthly payments, but reduce your out-of-pocket bill overall for 2015.
Open enrollment would also a good time to make sure that your Medicare Advantage plan will cover the orthopaedic surgeon who will be performing your knee replacement, the facility fees for the hospital at which he or she practices, the prosthetic hardware that will be implanted, and the physical and occupational therapy you will undergo post-op.
Don’t let yourself be frozen by unexpected out-of-pocket costs come January.
Call or e-mail us today so that we can take a look at your healthcare and budget needs, and the way your current Medicare Advantage and / or Medicare D plan matches up with them. We might be able to find another plan that offers you wider coverage, has a lower premium, or reduces your out-of-pocket costs for 2015.
At the very least, we can check over your current policy’s Annual Notice of Changes and call your attention to new cost-shifting measures, medication formulary changes, or changes to your provider network, so that you’ll encounter fewer unexpected expenses in the new year.