Medicare’s Annual Enrollment Period (also known as AEP) will be upon us before we know it. This period takes place every year from October 15th until December 7th. This the one opportunity you’ll have this year to make changes to your Medicare coverage. While comparing Medicare plans may not be your idea of spring or summer fun, beginning your research now will put you in a much better position to make an informed decision about the future of your care. To help you prepare for Medicare’s AEP, we’ve created an Annual Enrollment Period checklist. We hope it will help you reassess your needs, evaluate your current plan, and decide if it might be worthwhile to consider switching to a new plan.
Far too often, individuals end up making decisions that they come to regret during AEP. This is usually because they didn’t allow themselves enough time to explore the various coverage types available. Picking the wrong plan can be disastrous to your health and to your finances; a bad choice during AEP could potentially result in hundreds or even thousands of dollars in additional out-of-pocket costs. When it comes to Medicare, being proactive definitely pays off.
Without any further ado, here is the Annual Enrollment Period checklist!
Step 1: Re-evaluate your health situation
A lot can change in a year, and our personal health is no exception. While your plan may have been perfect for you when you first enrolled, that may not be the case anymore. This is especially true if you’ve changed doctors, require new additional benefits, or have started taking new prescriptions since enrolling.
Step 2: Re-evaluate your plan
If you’re covered under a Medicare Advantage plan, it’s important to note that while your plan is required to provide all of the same standard benefits included under Original Medicare, the additional benefits offered may change from year to year. For example, your Medicare Advantage plan may have included dental care when you signed up. However, there is no guarantee that it will offer it again. Your plan is required to send you a Notice of Chang prior to AEP. Make sure to review this document thoroughly when you receive it to ensure your specific health needs are still addressed.
Step 3: Reflect on the last year
Even if your plan’s benefits haven’t changed, upon reflection, you may realize that a different plan may be a better fit for you. For example, if you elected to enroll for a more expensive plan because you wanted to be prepared for any unexpected health issues, you may not feel the same way if your financial situation has changed. Alternatively, if you’ve found that you’ve visited the doctor more frequently than you initially anticipated, and those copays are starting to take a toll on your monthly budget, you may want to consider switching to a plan with an out-of-pocket maximum.
Step 4: Consider how your needs might change in the future
As you look ahead, do you anticipate any changes to your lifestyle that might impact your healthcare needs? For example, do you plan to travel internationally? If so, you may want to look into a Medicare Supplement plan that will cover any medical costs you may incur while abroad. On the other hand, if you foresee yourself traveling less over the course of the next year, you might look into Medicare Advantage plans that might offer more affordable care by limiting your options to a set area (as opposed to Original Medicare, which you can access from around the country.)