Use OEP to Ensure Medicare Advantage Meets Your Needs
The Open Enrollment Period allows you to take a second look at your Medicare Advantage plan
If you signed up for a Medicare Advantage plan that is not fulfilling your needs during the Annual Enrollment Period (AEP), you have until the end of March to adjust your coverage.
The Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment Period is open from Jan. 1 to March 31. If you’re a Medicare Advantage-eligible beneficiary, you can disenroll from a Medicare Advantage plan and enroll in another Medicare Advantage plan, or you can switch back to Original Medicare, with or without Part D prescription drug coverage.
Jenny Smith, product manager at Medico Insurance Company, says now is a good time to double check whether your MA plan includes your doctor and any specialists in its network. You can also ask yourself these questions during OEP:
- Do you understand what coverage you have?
- Do you know how to use it?
- Can you get the care you need when you need it?
- Do you feel you made a good decision?
Keep in mind, OEP is different from AEP – the period from mid-October to the beginning of December. During AEP, you can make more than one change, said Smith. However, this time during OEP, you can only make one change, effective the first of the following month.
Medicare Advantage-eligible beneficiaries are allowed to make the following approved changes during OEP:
- Medicare Advantage plan with prescription drug coverage to a different Medicare Advantage plan with prescription drug coverage
- Medicare Advantage plan with prescription drug coverage to Original Medicare with Part D
- Medicare Advantage only plan to a different Medicare Advantage only plan
- Medicare Advantage only plan to Original Medicare
If you’re unsure whether you want to keep your Medicare Advantage plan or switch to Original Medicare, you can weigh how important cost versus provider access matters to you. If you want the ability to visit almost all healthcare providers, anywhere in the country, and don’t want to have to get permission from an insurance company to see specialists, consider Original Medicare. On the other hand, if you want higher cost-sharing and prefer to choose from a network of providers, you’ll want to lean toward Medicare Advantage.
To check whether your doctor is in-network, go to your insurance company’s website and use its physician directory. These resources can also help:
- The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services suggest people look at two important documents: the “Evidence of Coverage” and “Annual Notice of Change.” These items will explain your coverage and help you determine whether your plan meets your needs.
- If you can’t decide whether a prescription drug plan is right for you, the National Committee to Preserve Social Security & Medicare provides information on drug coverage and costs for low-income seniors.
- Call the Medicare Rights Center’s National Helpline to help you figure out your Medicare benefits, find the right coverage, and understand how your existing MA coverage works with Medicare.
Above all, if you’re confused, Smith says, don’t be shy with your insurance agent.
“Look at the information your insurance company is sending you, and if you have a question, talk to your insurance company and agent,” she said.
Of course, if you are content and feel that your current plan will meet your needs this year, you don’t need to do anything. Or if you decide to keep your Medicare Advantage plan but need additional coverage, Short-Term Care insurance, Hospital Indemnity, First Diagnosis Cancer, and Dental, Vision, and Hearing (DVH) insurance can help round out your coverage needs.
Similarly, if you switch to Original Medicare, Medico’s Medicare Supplement and DVH insurance can complement your new plan. Please call 888-755-3066 or request a free quote to learn which insurance best fills in your coverage gaps.
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