Medicare open enrollment began Oct. 15. Have questions about the Medicare Advantage Plan and the process, who qualifies and — above all — what it all means? Here are some insights.
Understanding insurance can be complicated — especially when you move to Medicare for the first time. Now through early December is Medicare’s Annual Open Enrollment period. Chris Gourley with Senior Care Plus is here to help answer some of the big questions you may have.
First, what is a Medicare Advantage Plan, and who qualifies?
- These plans are available for those over 65, or with a qualifying disability, who qualify for Medicare.
- Enrollment is open Oct. 15 through Dec. 7.
- Medicare Advantage Plans, sometimes called “Part C” or “MA Plans,” are offered by private companies approved by Medicare. If you join an advantage plan, you also still have Medicare. You’ll get your Medicare Part A (hospital insurance) and Medicare Part B (medical insurance) coverage from the Medicare Advantage Plan and not original Medicare.
- These plans typically offer lower out-of-pocket costs than traditional government-run Medicare in exchange for members using in-network doctors and hospitals.
- In addition, they eliminate the need for additional insurance, such as Medigap.
Why should someone consider switching from Original Medicare to a Medicare Advantage Plan?
A: Typically, Medicare Advantage Plans cover more than original Medicare. Plans offer additional services like vision, dental, hearing aid coverage, long-term care not covered by Medicare, and many plans also include fitness benefits. Many of these plans cover prescription drugs and have a $0 premium — saving the member money every month.
Having a Medicare Advantage Plan simplifies coverage by centralizing Medicare part A, gap coverage, prescription and additional benefits into a single package and your out-of-pocket costs are typically lower in a Medicare Advantage Plan.
You can join a Medicare Advantage Plan even if you have a pre-existing condition, except for end-stage renal disease (ESRD).
How long does a Medicare eligible individual have to select a Medicare plan?
A: Every year Medicare Beneficiaries can enroll in a Medicare Advantage Plan or Prescription Drug Plan between October 15 and December 7. The new plan will subsequently take effect on January 1 of the following year. This year also opens up a new period to change Medicare Advantage Plans or dis-enroll from a plan. This is called the Open Enrollment Period and runs from January 1 through March 31.
With Medicare Advantage enrollment now open – is there anything people should watch for in the weeks ahead?
A: If you are currently enrolled in a Medicare Advantage Plan or a Medicare Prescription Drug plan, you need to look for a mailing from your plan called the Annual Notice of Change. This document outlines all of the changes that will occur with your plan on January 1, 2019. This mailing should have come in the last week of September – before September 30th. Read this document carefully to understand what is changing with your plan in 2019.
How do I learn more about a local option for a Medicare Advantage Plan?
Visit the Senior Care Plus website to schedule a free informational meeting with an insurance expert to see if a Medicare advantage plan is right for you. Another resource: learn more at seniorcareplus.com, or by calling 775-982-3191.
You can also learn more about Renown Health at Renown.org/newpatient.