Medicare beneficiaries have an alternative to traditional Medicare in the form of Medicare Advantage plans. These plans are guaranteed issue regardless of any pre-existing health problems with the exception of End Stage Renal Disease. Even though the plans accept most health conditions, the time when you can sign up for one is strictly limited.
When you first become eligible for Medicare, whether from a disability or by virtue of turning 65, you can choose any one of the Medicare Advantage plans operating in your area. After that initial sign up period lapses, there is a yearly open enrollment from October 15 until December 7. Many people think these plans are available throughout the year, but that only applies to a handful of Advantage plans.
The federal government, which subsidies Medicare Advantage plans, rates them. A five-star rating is the best, and plans achieving that can sign you up when you prefer. This rating system is brand new, and few plans have succeeded in getting the top ranking yet. Powerful monetary incentives are offered and insurance companies are working to improve their rating.
For most people, the annual October 15 to December 7 enrollment is the only chance to get one of these plans. There’s a big demand for them because they cover more than traditional Medicare, including dental care, hearing and vision services as well as prescriptions. Just confirm that the medicine you need is covered by a plan. Not all of the Medicare Advantage plans will pay for every prescription.
Wiley Long is founder and president of Medigap Advisors, and is passionate about helping people navigate the confusing waters of Medicare. He is the author of The Medicare Playbook: Designing Your Successful Health Coverage Strategy, a clear and simple explanation so you can make the most of your Medicare coverage. For more information visit www.MediGapAdvisors.com.