The Medicare Annual Enrollment Period (AEP) is almost here with us, making it the best time for those with Medicare to prepare for the massive period ahead. The AEP for 2021 begins on October 15th and runs until December 7th.
During this period, millions of Americans are expected to review their coverage and ensure they have the best plan for their healthcare needs in the coming year.
Keep in mind that if you don’t prepare for the AEP and switch plans if need be, your current Medicare plan will auto-renew at the beginning of next year.
Before you take that route, make sure you review your current healthcare needs and ask yourself whether your current plan will still meet the needs come next year.
So, what are you supposed to do to prepare for Medicare’s Annual Enrollment Period? Let us find out.
1. Review Your Annual Notice of Change Letter
In our previous post, we dived deep into defining an Annual Notice of Change Letter and when you should expect it in your mailbox.
Now, it is essential to sit down and review your letter thoroughly because it will contain a list of planned changes to your current plan. The changes will dictate the kind of coverage that the plan will offer in the new year.
Go through the letter to see if the cost, coverage locations, or drug formulary will change in any way for the coming year. You should also confirm whether the in-network providers and pharmacies are conveniently located.
From there, assess your healthcare needs over the past year to see if anything has changed. Did your needs change drastically? Were you forced to receive a new set of services that perhaps your current plan doesn’t cover? Will your current plan cover all of your needs should you choose to renew it?
2. Review the Medicare & You Handbook
Medicare & You is the official federal government handbook that explains almost everything you need to know about Medicare. The book contains useful information on Medicare costs, coverage, enrollment, penalties, and much more. The book is usually updated every year, and you get your softcopy here.
The handbook also highlights new Medicare information plus any significant changes in store for the upcoming year, if any. This includes changes in Medicare policies and rules, costs, or any other aspect that could affect your Medicare coverage. Therefore, it is critical to stay up-to-date.
3. Write Down a List of What Is Important to You in Your Coverage
Create a comprehensive list of your top coverage priorities to avoid getting overwhelmed while reviewing the information on different options. Note down what you like about your current plan and what you wish was different.
Make sure you have this checklist ready ahead of time so that you can easily narrow down your options and eliminate plans that you don’t need.
Some of the critical information to include on your checklist includes:
- Cost: Do you want a plan with a monthly premium or a zero- dollar monthly premium plan? What are the deductibles and copays, and what is the maximum out-of-pocket limit you can afford? What is the total cost of medications you take every year?
- Networks: Do you want to see your preferred doctor or use a specific Pharmacy you like? Do you want to be covered when you travel?
- Benefits: Does the plan offer full coverage for the medical services that you need? Do you need referrals to see specialists? Do you require prior authorization on any medications or medical services?
4. Sign Up for MyMedicare.gov Account
Did you know that you can sign up for MyMedicare.gov account for easier and faster access to all of your personal Medicare-related information? Setting up an account is pretty easy, and the information may come in handy during Medicare Annual Enrollment Period.
In fact, you can use your MyMedicare.gov account to review your Medicare claims as soon as they are processed and find helpful information about your eligibility and entitlement.
The account also provides instant access to your current health and drug plan enrollment information while offering you a wide range of options to manage your drug list.
5. Decide Whether You’ll Renew or Change Your Current Plan
Once you have a clear picture of where you are with your current plan and what you can afford to pay in terms of copays, monthly premiums, deductibles, and out-of-pocket expenses, you have one huge decision to make.
If you are 100% satisfied with your current Medicare plan and want to keep it for the coming year, then you can choose to renew it. Just make sure you are comfortable with everything, including the proposed changes in the Annual Notice of Change Letter.
If that is the case, you don’t have to do anything during the Medicare Annual Enrollment Period since your plan will auto-renew on January 1st.
However, if you are not happy with your current plan, you have got an option to change it. Take time to evaluate the different plans available in your area and choose a plan that suits your needs and budget.
6. Talk to Your Doctor about Your Current Medicare Plan
If you are enrolled in traditional Medicare and a Medigap plan, the conversation should be pretty simple and straightforward. All you have to do is ask your doctor if he will still be taking Original Medicare next year. If the answer is “yes,” then your current coverage will still serve you well.
However, if you have been enrolled in a Medicare Advantage plan that changes premiums, benefits, formularies, and networks every year, you need to dig a little bit further.
Find out if your preferred doctor is still in-network and if they are satisfied with your current plan. If there is any chance they will be leaving the network, ask them which plan they will be joining. Keep in mind that doctors are allowed to change networks any time of the year.
Medicare Advantage enrollees never know when that will happen, and the only person who can answer that question is your doctor. Be straightforward and ask them whether they are satisfied participating in your current plan or intend to switch networks.
7. Get Trusted Advice on Medicare Annual Enrollment Period
Lastly, you need to speak to an experienced and licensed Medicare agent who can provide you with trusted advice. Since there are a lot of considerations you need to make when choosing your Medicare plan, it helps to be with someone who can guide you.
At Insurance Master, we have assembled a team of licensed Medicare agents ready to answer your questions and guide you to making informed decisions during this year’s Medicare Annual Enrollment Period.
Contact us today and let us help you make an informed decision this coming Annual Enrollment Period.