It’s Fall Open Enrollment, which means for millions of Americans, it can be a crucial time for knowing in finding the best new rates on a new Medicare Advantage and Part (D) plans. Many just renew, or just follow the steps and accept the plan provided. But for you SAVVY individuals reading this, we can do better. Here are some important tips for how you can find the best rates and plans during Medicare open enrollment.
Every Year from October 15th through December 7th, Fall Open Enrollment Happens
This is the timeframe that you need to know and write down, because once open enrollment starts, you only have a couple months to decide if it’s time to switch to a new plan. Before the market even opens, you’ll want to have already done your research on upcoming plans so that you are prepared and ready to make your decision ahead of time. Switching to a new plan or keeping your current one is a huge decision and it requires time to adequately know what plan is the best for you.
Use Medicare’s Plan Finder Tool
Medicare has a fantastic online gadget called the Plan Finder Tool that helps you compare rates for Part D prescription drug plans based on a few personal factors. These include medications you take, the zip code you live in, the pharmacy you use, and the cost of your medications. This tool can be very important for finding the best Medicare plan that will work for you.
Enroll Through 1-800-MEDICARE or An Online Portal
One of the best ways you can enroll in a plan is directly through Medicare’s toll free number or via their online portal. This ensures that you’ll be protected if there’s a problem with your enrollment. Make sure that you take notes on the representative you spoke with as well as the conversation you had, the date of the conversation and any details about the next steps and expectations. You can get a great Medicare Advantage plan just by picking up the phone. Remember to ask important questions like, “will my doctors be in network with this plan,” and “what will I pay for visits to my doctor under this plan.” Knowing if your doctors contract with a plan is huge. This means that the plan pays the doctor a contracted rate for services rendered, no matter what the doctor charges your insurance.
See what changes your current plan may be undergoing
It is highly important to make sure that your current plan is still the best plan for you. Medications can go up and down tiers as the formulary changes. The formulary is the list of covered and non covered medications on the plan. The tiers determine how much you’ll pay for certain medications under the plan. Some medications may be excluded from coverage entirely. Your plan could change and the cost of your medications can go up. Some people may discover that their plan no longer suits their prescription needs due to cost concerns. Make sure that you research your plan and any changes that may be happening to it, and compare your current formulary to those of other available plans. Find the plan that best covers all your medications at the least price possible.
Understand your evolving prescription needs
Your plan may not be the thing that changes, but it could be your prescription needs. Maybe your doctor prescribes your a brand name over a generic, or there’s a medication that you’re simply not taking anymore. Or your doctor has put you on an entirely new medication that you previously knew nothing about. It is absolutely necessary to make sure that your plan is still suitable for your changes in medications. If it’s not the best plan for you anymore because your prescriptions have changed, then it’s time to start shopping for the best plan for you.
Never Settle on Your Current Plan
Even if you are satisfied with your current plan, it doesn’t mean that even better options are out there for you. Don’t ignore Fall Open Enrollment just because your plan is good. Be open to researching other plans that are out there, because you never know, you could come across an even better plan that gives you the best coverage and the lowest medication costs. You can compare your current plan side by side with other plans that are out there. Weigh the costs, know the changes, and before October 15th even hits, you’ll already know what choice to make.
Find Assistance When You Need It
There is so much support out there when it comes to finding the best rates on a great Medicare plan for you. If you’ve done the research on a plan, the best thing to do right away is to call the actual plan. The representatives are specifically trained on all the ins and outs of the plan you are considering, so don’t be afraid to ask them a lot of questions about the plan you are looking at. Again, keep notes of the conversation so that any enrollment problems can be solved. Another great assistance resource is the State Health Insurance Assistance Program, also called SHIP. Contact your local SHIP to get help with navigating your plan and the market. They can assist you with comparing your plan’s rates to other available plans.
By using these tips you learned, finding the best rates on new Medicare plans during Fall Open Enrollment will secure your medical and prescription needs for the new year, and all it takes is using these tips to do the research and pick the plan that works best for you. Navigating the health system can be daunting, so remember you have help in every direction when it comes to making the big decision. You don’t need to do it alone and there’s support every step of the way. If you feel like you’re ready to take on the challenge and get a jump start on the best new plans available, remember these tips that you learned today.