During Medicare open enrollment, the period from October 15 to December 7, Medicare beneficiaries may switch, drop or add new benefits without penalty.
Many individuals with Medicare find they need to make changes to their plan because their medication needs have changed, or their plan no longer fits their health care needs.
Any changes made during open enrollment will go into effect Jan. 1, 2024.
“Premium costs change, drug costs change, your doctors may change. No matter how happy you are with your plan, it’s worth a look to make sure you’re still on the best plan,” says Shari Smith, manager of the Medicare Medicaid Assistance Program at the Area Agency on Aging 1-B.
Here’s what you can do during open enrollment:
- Enroll in a Part D (prescription drug) plan or a Medicare Advantage plan, a private product that includes Original Medicare and Part D and sometimes other benefits like vision, dental and hearing coverage. Some Medicare Advantage plans offer copay and deductible coverage, as well.
- Drop a Part D or Medicare Advantage plan and go back to Original Medicare (Part A and B). That means you’ll no longer have prescription drug coverage.
- Switch from one Medicare drug plan to another Medicare drug plan.
- Switch from one Medicare Advantage Plan to another. You may also do this during Medicare Advantage open enrollment from Jan. 1 to March 31.
- Do nothing if you’re happy with your Medicare plan.
Here’s how to make the most of open enrollment:
- If you have only Original Medicare and your doctor prescribed a new medication for you this year, enroll in a Part D or Medicare Advantage plan that covers it.
- If you have a Part D or a Medicare Advantage plan, you will get a formulary, or list of covered drugs, in the fall. Make sure your medications will be covered by your plan in 2024. If not, switch to one that does.
- If you no longer take medication, consider dropping your Part D or Medicare Advantage plan and going back to Original Medicare.
- Choose a plan that fits your healthcare and budgetary needs. Don’t go with a neighbor’s recommendation – unless it covers the medications you need.
- Look at a plan’s premiums and drug costs. You could end up paying more with a new plan if you only consider premiums.
- Do a little sleuthing: While you may have a favorite pharmacy, it may not offer the best price for your medication. When comparing Part D plans, compare prices between local pharmacies to get the best deal possible.
- Review your plan every year. Costs go up (and, rarely, down) and provider networks may change.
- Take advantage of a free, unbiased review of your plan by calling the Medicare Medicaid Assistance Program at the Area Agency on Aging 1-B. One-on-one appointments with trained counselors are available in person, on the phone and online. Call 800-803-7174.
This content is provided by the Area Agency on Aging 1-B, a nonprofit that serves older adults and family caregivers in Livingston, Macomb, Monroe, Oakland, St. Clair and Washtenaw counties. We provide services, programs and resources that are designed to help seniors age safely and independently. Call us at 800-852-7795 to get connected.
Opinions expressed in this blog belong solely to the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions or beliefs of Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan or its subsidiaries and affiliates.