“Many of our Medicare beneficiaries tell us that they feel uncertain about their ability to evaluate plan options and make good decisions for themselves during the annual enrollment period,” said Danielle Roberts, co-founder at Boomer Benefits, an agency which assists Medicare beneficiaries with navigating their plan options. To avoid mistakes during this time, Roberts recommends that beneficiaries consider several factors.
Current drug coverage is changing. Many beneficiaries try to avoid the confusion altogether by sticking with their current plan. Roberts advised that reviewing your coverage is critical every year because the costs, pharmacy networks and lists of covered drugs for the upcoming year will likely be different than they were in the year that is ending.
Beneficiaries can find information about their plan’s benefits changes by reviewing their annual notice of change letter that is mailed to them every year in late September.
Networks may change on Medicare Advantage plans. Individuals enrolled in Medicare Advantage plans should be aware that the providers in their plan’s network can also change. Doctors and hospitals negotiate contracts with Medicare Advantage plans, and sometimes providers decide not to renew those contracts.
Roberts advises that beneficiaries consult their plan’s online network directory to verify whether their important doctors and hospitals will still participate next year.
Medigap plan benefits do not change. Also called Medicare supplements, Medigap plans help to pay for Medicare deductibles and copays. These policies do not have benefit changes from year to year. While premiums may change on the policy’s anniversary, that date may or may not fall within the annual election period.
“Medigap policyholders can apply to change their plan any time of year to try to save on premiums,” said Roberts. “They are not limited to changing this coverage only during the annual election period so they can concentrate on reviewing just their drug coverage before the December 7th deadline and shop their Medigap plans later on.”
Find Helpful Info at Medicare.gov. Individuals considering plan changes can use Medicare’s website to see plan options for 2019. It offers a plan finder tool to analyze drug costs and displays plan star ratings which can help beneficiaries compare member satisfaction levels with various plans. Roberts said there are plenty of plans with 4-star ratings and higher for 2019.
Beneficiaries who feel uncertain about analyzing plans themselves can consult a Medicare insurance broker like Boomer Benefits for help. Founded in 2005, the agency has assisted more than 20,000 Medicare beneficiaries with their Medicare plans across 47 states. You can learn more here: https://boomerbenefits.com/about-us/
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