For Medicare beneficiaries, this is the time of year to do some research. The open enrollment period is now underway, and ends this coming Wednesday, December 7. Any changes made to coverage take effect January 1.
Action isn’t required — plans generally renew automatically. But financial advisors urge clients to take advantage of open enrollment to read their plan’s fine print. Costs, coverage, and participating providers for prescription drugs and other crucial things may change from year to year.
Despite this, less than one-third of beneficiaries reviewed their plan during open enrollment in 2020, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation.
How Drug Plans Change
Around 64.5 million people are Medicare beneficiaries, the vast majority of which are over the age of 65. The program is broken down into four parts: A, B, C, and D.
During the open enrollment period, beneficiaries will want to review any changes made to their prescription drug plans( Part D) and Advantage Plans (Part C). Advantage Plans deliver Part A (hospital coverage), as well as Part B (outpatient care). Most Advantage Plans also cover Part D.
Pay attention to monthly premiums, copays, deductibles, and other out-of-pocket expenses, which are often subject to change. Also, know that while Advantage Plans offer some flexibility, standalone Part D plans are locked in after January 1.
What’s the Advantage?
While a beneficiary could simply enroll in Part A and/or Part B, Advantage Plans offer additional benefits. This can include a $200 to $400 credit for buying over-the-counter medicine, as well as refunded transportation to and from doctor appointments. That said, Advantage Plans are even more important to check each year, as those benefits can change.
Also, heading into 2023, there are some changes to Medicare associated with the climate, tax, and health care spending bill passed by Congress this past summer. With the deadline rapidly approaching, this year more than ever, it might pay to do some research.
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