Allworth Co-CEO Scott Hanson shares a few key refreshers about the Medicare Open Enrollment period that’s coming up in October.
Winter, spring, summer, and… Medicare Open Enrollment.
Don’t you just love the four seasons?
Each fall, Medicare Open Enrollment arrives to shorten the days and turn the leaves orange while simultaneously offering you the opportunity to dial in your Medicare coverage.
And while October 15th through December 7th is not the only time of the year when you can update your Medicare coverage, this seasonal window offers you the most flexibility to make changes to your plan.
Quick reminder: The open enrollment period is not a catch-all for signing up for Medicare. (I’ll get to that in a moment.) The October 15th through December 7th period is for current Medicare participants who want to update or alter their existing plan.
*Please note, that the changes you make during this open enrollment period will go into effect January 1st, 2024.
What types of changes can you make during the Medicare Open Enrollment period?
Change from Original Medicare to a Medicare Advantage plan
Change to a Medicare Advantage plan that has or does not have drug coverage
Change your Medicare Part D drug plan
Change to a new private insurer
Remember, while complex, open enrollment is an important part of making sure you have the best possible health coverage for 2024.
What are the questions you should ask yourself so you can benefit from open enrollment?
What is new for 2024?
Both the specifics and the costs of the plans change every year. If you are already enrolled in Medicare, whether you speak with an advisor, or you have the bandwidth to conduct the research yourself, you need to familiarize yourself with the various costs and coverages and then make the best choice for you.
What are your upcoming medical needs?
When it comes to making changes to your coverage, the most important thing to consider is whether there have been any changes to your medical situation. Having the best plan in place can save you money and time. Also, ask yourself if you anticipate any substantial changes to your health needs in 2024. For example, if you expect to have a knee or hip replacement next year, then it is possible in the long-run that a higher-cost Advantage plan could save you money.
Will you be traveling more next year?
Original Medicare coverage does not extend overseas, so if you are planning to travel more, or for longer periods in 2024, you might want to buy a supplemental insurance plan for medical emergencies, or those costs (and they can be staggering) will come out of your pocket.
As a refresher, when can you first sign up for Medicare?
While open enrollment is not designed as a sign-up period for Medicare (unless you happen to turn 65 in the fall), if this is your first time signing up for Medicare, here are the milestones to remember:
Initial enrollment is available to you over a seven-month period around your 65th birthday
This period runs three months before the month you turn 65 until three months after
Medicare general enrollment lasts from January 1st until March 31st of each year
If you missed your initial enrollment period (above) you will have to pay a fee
A Medicare special enrollment period exists for people who were still covered by employers at age 65
If you fail to sign up on time, you might be able to avoid a late penalty if you still had health insurance from work
Medicare Supplement open enrollment opens when you reach age 65
Also called Medigap, if you miss the enrollment period, you could:
See your premiums increase
Have a pre-existing condition that will be denied coverage
If you spend time researching Medicare, and I think everyone should, and yet you still come away from the experience scratching your head, you are not alone.
Unfortunately, what should be an uncomplicated process is anything but, and mistakes or delays can cost you, big time.
Do not leave anything to chance. Allworth advisors are not only adept at financial planning, behavioral financial guidance, and uncompromised investment management, we can help you review your options and assist you with decisions regarding Medicare and Social Security.
Think of it this way: A small investment of time right now could save you thousands of dollars and a lot of stress down the road.