Medicare Annual Enrollment, which takes place from October 15th through December 7th every year, is underway. Most consumers rely on advertisements, seminars, or company presentations to learn about their options. These do not usually give a full picture of what choices you have during the Medicare Annual Enrollment season. A basic understanding of the four parts of Medicare is necessary before choosing a Medicare plan.
Medicare Part A (hospital) and Part B (doctor + outpatient) covers most retirees and is consistent from year to year. October 15th – December 7th has little to do with Medicare Part A and Part B. The Annual Enrollment Period is for making elections regarding Part C, Medicare Advantage, and Part D, prescription drug plans. A Part C election means one is choosing to receive their medicare coverage (Part A + Part B) from a private insurance company. Effectively, on a Part C plan, one is no longer receiving Medicare directly from the government. Most Part C plans also include a Part D drug plan.
Consumers choosing to receive Original Medicare, Parts A and B, directly from the government need only to concern themselves October 7th to December 15th with their Part D drug plan. Consumers staying on Original Medicare can choose from a long list of Part D; this Part D choice must be made October 15th to December 7th. Consumers can also simply remain on the Part D plan in 2020 they have used in 2019.
Most consumers on Original Medicare have a Medicare supplement policy Plan F or Plan G (not to be confused with the Parts of Medicare). A Medicare supplement policy, sometimes called Medigap, pays what Original Medicare does not. A Medigap policy generally costs $100 to $200 monthly. These policies limit out of pocket costs and enable a consumers to go to any doctor or hospital in the U.S. that accepts Medicare. An election for a Part C plan usually requires use of doctors and hospitals in the insurance companies network plus co-payments and deductibles. A Part C Medicare Advantage plan saves a consumer the cost of a Medicare supplement policy and the cost of a Part D drug plan.
There are few important things to remember.
- You cannot have a Medicare Advantage plan and a Medicare Supplement at the same time, it is against the law.
- No matter the path you take, you still must pay for Part A (free for most) and Part B ($144.30 yearly in 2020 for most).
- Medicare Advantage plans do not travel well, if you visit another state or area a good amount, you will want to consider this in your choice.
- You can change your Medicare Supplement any time during the year, not just during the Annual Enrollment Period.
- Any change you make during Annual Enrollment will take effect January 1.
If you want more in depth help with your Medicare this Annual Enrollment season, you can read more about it or just give us a call: 919-535-8261.