Avoid These Medicare Open Enrollment Mistakes
Even a small mistake in your Medicare Open Enrollment choice can have a year-long impact, resulting in added premiums or out-of-pocket costs. Choosing the wrong Medicare plan could also impact your access to needed hospital and medical coverage or limit your choices in the type of care you receive. Here’s what you need to know:
- Open Enrollment starts October 15, 2021.
- Open Enrollment ends December 7, 2021.
- Open Enrollment is the time to review plan benefits for the coming year.
- If you don’t like your coverage, you can switch your Medicare plan.
Don’t Confuse Open Enrollment with General Enrollment
You can sign up for Medicare during your initial Medicare enrollment period, which starts three months before you turn 65 and ends three months after you turn 65. Assuming you did enroll, you can use Medicare Open Enrollment to switch plans or to shop around for better coverage.
Only people currently enrolled in Medicare can participate in Medicare Open Enrollment plan changes. If you didn't enroll in Medicare during your initial enrollment period, you can use the General Enrollment period from January 1 to March 31 to enroll in a Medicare plan.
Don't Assume You Know What’s in Your Medicare Plan
Medicare plans can change yearly, meaning the plan you're on now could have different coverage or costs for the following year. If you don't review your statement of benefits during Medicare Open Enrollment, you could be in for a surprise if you let the coverage roll over to 2022. For example, the 2022 coverage benefits might not include preferred medications, or there might be higher out-of-pocket costs.
Don’t Choose a Medicare Plan on Price Alone
As you age, your health changes. Make sure you're buying the right coverage for your needs now. Prepare a list of your current health requirements, including the medications you're taking, the types of specialists you need to see, and how frequently you want to visit your doctors. A low-priced plan that doesn't support your healthcare needs can cost you more over time in the form of out-of-pocket expenses.
Avoid Medicare Late Enrollment Penalties
Be aware of any penalties you might face during Medicare Open Enrollment. To avoid penalties, it’s best to enroll in Medicare when you’re first eligible or when you lose other creditable coverage. To understand penalties that might impact your Open Enrollment premiums, consider these risks:
- Part A (hospital insurance): Some people have to buy Part A because they don't qualify for premium-free Part A. If that’s the case for you, and you don’t buy it when you first become eligible for Medicare, you could pay 10% more in your monthly premium as a penalty — and you’ll pay that higher fee for twice the number of years you didn’t sign up.
- Part B (medical insurance): If you didn't get Part B when you first became eligible, you could pay a 10% penalty for each 12-month period you could have had Part B coverage. You'll pay this penalty as long as you have Part B, and the penalty increases the longer you go without it.
- Part D (drug coverage): If you didn't sign up for Medicare Part D as soon as you become eligible, or if you go 63 days in a row without Medicare drug coverage or other creditable prescription drug coverage, you will pay a late enrollment penalty equal to 1% of the national base beneficiary premium ($33.06 in 2021) times the number of full, uncovered months you didn't have Part D or creditable coverage. This number is rounded to the nearest $.10 and added to your monthly Part D premium.
Don't Overlook Medicare Plan Benefit Details
When considering your Medicare Open Enrollment options, weigh plan benefits against your monthly premiums or out-of-pocket costs. If you're a traveler, find out if the plan covers you while you're on the road or out of the country. Also, consider what restrictions there are on the number of doctor visits you can have and if the providers you prefer are covered or out of network.
Don’t Assume Medicare Covers Everything
Medicare plans don’t cover everything. For example, they don’t typically cover long-term care, at-home custodial care, most dental care, routine vision care, hearing aids, regular chiropractic services, podiatry, or psychological services. You might also need a Medigap plan to cover drug costs that exceed your allotted coverage amount with Medicare Part D.
Compare Your Medicare Open Enrollment Options with AgeFriendly.org
AgeFriendly.org wants to help you make Medicare Open Enrollment easier! We've partnered with SelectQuote to help you compare Medicare plans with the help of a licensed agent. You can call today at 1-855-589-1050 (TTY:1-877-486-2048) or visit medicare.selectquote.com/agefriendly (no obligation to enroll).