Critter Corner Medicare Planning: Why You Should Review Your Medicare Plan Every Year

Hayek 1Dear Hayek,

I understand that Medicare Fall Open Enrollment is starting next month. I think I’m happy with my plan, but my husband keeps saying that we should still review it every year. What are the benefits of reviewing our plan each year?

Thanks,

Rhea View

Dear Rhea,

Medicare Fall Open Enrollment, which will last until Dec. 7, is a chance for all medicare abeneficiaries – even those who are pleased with their plan – to explore their options. During this period, you can drop your current Medicare Advantage plan in favor of another, revert to Original Medicare, opt to enroll in a Medicare Advantage Plan, add or change your Medicare Part D prescription drug coverage, or purchase a Medicare Supplement Insurance plan.

When it comes to your Medicare plan, it’s a good thing that you are satisfied with your plan. However, being satisfied doesn’t mean there aren’t areas for improvement, and what worked for you in 2022 may not be right for 2023. For example, though we don’t always know what the future will hold, if you foresee events such as a surgery or changes in your prescription drug regimen, planning in advance with the right Medicare plan could help you save substantially on your medical bills.

Reviewing your Coverage

Reviewing your current coverage doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll make any changes, but rather that you’re open to the idea that something better might be available.

Mr. Farr is affiliated with Retirement & Medicare Together to serve the Medicare needs of our clients. These are some reasons why you might want a Medicare review every year:

  • One or some of your medications may not be covered;
  • Your company may increase your cost on certain medications;
  • Your doctor could no longer accept your plan, meaning you will pay higher costs or need to change doctors;
  • You may miss out on the benefits you are entitled to;
  • You could miss out on the opportunity to lower your Part B premium;
  • You may only have one chance this year to review your plan.

The following are some ways you can conduct research before Open Enrollment:

  • Search Medicare plans, including prescription drug benefits – known as Medicare Part D – with the Medicare Plan Finder tool, or call 800-MEDICARE 24 hours a day, 7 days a week with questions.
  • Read through this year’s “Medicare & You” handbook on Medicare.gov to understand what’s covered under preventive services (such as mammograms and flu shots) and how much you’ll pay out of pocket for certain treatments, exams, and procedures;
  • As with other types of health insurance, Medicare Advantage plans can vary dramatically in cost and coverage. The average monthly premiums and deductibles for a Medicare Advantage plan in 2023 vary greatly by region and plan, so research your own specific situation;
  • It’s also important to check your provider network and that the doctors you see still participate;
  • If you’ve reviewed the information and want to stay with Original Medicare, no action is required on your part;
  • Changes made during the Fall Open Enrollment period will take effect on Jan. 1.

Analyzing your health care needs for next year and looking at a variety of plans during open enrollment –ideally with the help of an expert such as the Medicare experts at Retirement & Medicare Together — will help ensure you have the best coverage.

Hope this is helpful,

Hayek

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About Renee Eder

Renee Eder is the Director of Public Relations for the Farr Law Firm, and gives the voice to the Critters of Critter Corner. Renee’s poodle, Penny, is an official comfort dog who she and her children bring to visit with seniors who are in the early stages of dementia at a local senior home once a month.

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