Reviewing Your Medicare Coverage Can Save You Money
The 2019 Medicare Open Enrollment period is here! Open Enrollment occurs annually between Oct.15 and Dec. 7; this is the designated time during which you are able to make changes to your Medicare health and prescription drug coverage for the coming year if you choose to do so. That sounds pretty simple, but in reality it can feel a little complicated and overwhelming if you’re trying to compare plans and figure everything out on your own. This is because options can vary quite a bit, and because there may be rules, exceptions, and contingencies for specific situations. The good news is that there is no shortage of helpful information for your Open Enrollment journey! Please note the following basic recommendations.
Review your coverage, even if you’re satisfied with it. An annual review and comparison of your Medicare coverage makes so much sense! If it turns out that you are happy with your coverage after comparing it with other coverage available, there is no need to do anything further; you are already enrolled and your current coverage will continue as-is. While some recipients (e.g., those on Original Medicare who have a supplemental Medigap policy and/or a Part D prescription drug plan) prefer to stay on their existing plans and never want to think about them again, we need to consider that life itself can change suddenly and dramatically in a year’s time. It is unrealistic to expect that one’s medication and healthcare needs will always remain constant.
Reviewing your own coverage in relationship to your current situation and comparing it to what else is available for the coming year could make quite a difference in your costs over the long term. Medicare recommends that recipients start comparing their existing coverage with other options as early as October 1—but if you haven’t done so, it is not too late. If doing this on your own:
- This excellent online tool contains a great deal of practical information and can assist you in determining a) if your choice of Original Medicare vs. Medicare Advantage is still appropriate; and b) if you’re on Original Medicare, the Medigap supplement and Part D prescription drug coverage you elected are still your best options.
- A wealth of very good information is available on Medicare’s contacts webpage.
- “Medicare & You 2019” is a guide that answers many questions about coverage as well as specific plans. Published by CMS (Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services), this guide was also mailed to Medicare recipients in hard copy a few weeks ago.
If you need help, engage a SHIP counselor. Medicare trains and certifies volunteers who can help you evaluate the options based on your needs. (Medicare’s SHIP counseling is free and unbiased.)
- The State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP) can be reached at 1-800-452-4800 (TTY: 1-866-846-0139).
- Across all of Indiana, this counseling is available through a number of agencies (including CICOA and others covering Central Indiana) listed at the Indiana SHIP Counselor’s Corner.
- CICOA Aging & In-Home Solutions, at (317) 803-6131, is a proud SHIP provider, and we look forward to assisting you if you need us!