December 7 – that’s the official end of the 2017 Annual Election Period (AEP) for Medicare Advantage plans and Part D prescription drug plans – is just around the corner. Do you need to take care of any business associated with your Medicare coverage? Here’s a quick review:
- If you have original Medicare, along with a Medicare supplement (Medigap) plan, and everything is going well for you, you don’t need to do a thing.
- If you’re not happy with original Medicare, and you’re thinking about changing to a Medicare Advantage plan, now is the time to change! You can only make this change until December 7, otherwise you’ll have to wait until next year’s AEP.
- This is also the only time of year you can switch to a different Part D prescription drug plan, or purchase one outside of your initial Medicare enrollment period.
Why would you want to consider a Medicare Advantage plan? Often you’ll get more benefits for lower premiums. Many Medicare Advantage plans also cover prescription drugs – which original Medicare does not. Also, some Medicare Advantage plans include special benefits, like dental and vision coverage, as well as programs that pay for gym memberships.
What’s the downside to Medicare Advantage plans? They’re good coverage, but they do require that you see the doctors in the plan’s network. And they won’t pay claims if you don’t. It can be difficult to change when you really like and trust your doctors.
Prescription drug plans change pretty frequently – either the way they cover drugs, or even whether they cover them at all. If there’s been a significant change to the way your plan pays for the drugs that you need, this is your chance to find a different plan. Be sure you check the plan’s formulary – that’s the part of the policy that determines how it pays for prescription drugs – before you make a change.
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.