How to Change Your Medicare Plan
Can you change your Medicare plan? Yes, but there are always deadlines approaching to do so! This reminds me of one of my favorite subjects: ice cream. Oh, how I wish I could be asked to write about that! Well, this ties in with Baskin-Robbins, which may not be the finest for frozen dessert aficionados, but we love the variety. 31 flavors!
That’s What Medicare Plans Offer to You
There are dozens of Medicare Advantage plans to choose from in the Silver State. Search Medicare.gov and you’ll see them listed for your zip code.
In my Washoe County zip alone, I found 28 Advantage plans to pick from. Most have zero-cost premiums. Providers include Aetna, Saint Mary’s ATRIO, Humana, Senior Care Plus/Renown, Prominence, Wellcare, and Anthem. The site lists basic stats for each plan for you to compare. As I like to say, there’s one that’s just right for you.
You May Want to Make a Change
What if you’re already locked into a Medicare Advantage plan that you’re not completely satisfied with? Or maybe you thought you were until you hear of another plan that offers more of what you like. I know the feeling. One thing I’ve noticed since becoming a senior myself: we like to compare our Medicare plan benefits with others our age. Millennials, don’t laugh. Choosing the right health plan in our later years is so very important.
Many Medicare Advantage plans are HMOs, and you might want a wider choice of doctors and hospitals than your current plan has. Or maybe there’s a plan that offers more in the way of prescription drugs. And of course, plans vary in how much they charge in co-payments for things like hospital stays. If you have a bit of buyer’s remorse and are considering a “change of plans”, there is no better time than now to start looking. There are multiple times you can make changes during the year.
So What’s the Catch?
You are allowed to change your plan as many times as you choose during the Medical Annual Enrollment Period. You can only change your Medicare plan once during this Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment Period. Any changes you, during tis time, will be effective the first of the month after the new plan gets your request. You’ll be automatically dropped from your prior plan when the new coverage begins.
If you have an Advantage plan and want to switch to Original Medicare (Part B), things get a bit complicated. If you buy a Medigap plan to go with it, health insurers could say no or charge you more based on your medical history. If it looks costly to them, they may deny you from signing up for a Medigap plan. You should definitely check your chances before dropping your Advantage policy.
What if You’re Happy With the Plan You Have?
That’s great! No need for you to take any action. But if you want to find a plan that better fits your needs and budget, now’s your chance to shop around.
On the other side, If you’re on Original Medicare (Part B) by itself now, you cannot make a change during this Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment period. In that case, you have to wait until the Fall annual open enrollment period to pick a new plan like Advantage (Part C) for next year. Or maybe just add that Medigap plan to your Part B. You may want to: Advantage plans offer coverage that Original Medicare doesn’t, including limited dental coverage and gym memberships.
Personally, I feel that most folks on a plan don’t know about these “period of change” opportunities. And did you know that 42% of the total Medicare population, over 26 million people, are enrolled in a Medicare Advantage plan? So spread the word! And keep in mind, these windows for changing plans happen every year.
Happy hunting! It’s definitely worth having a health insurance broker listen to your needs to come up with some top choices that fit if you want to change your Medicare plan. That’s what I did at my local Health Benefits Associates office.
Medicare offers a helpful website to narrow your choices. Search “Find a Medicare Plan” at medicare.gov.
As always, I recommend your local no-cost broker at Health Benefits Associates to guide you through the Medicare maze. They did for me!