- December 28, 2020
Many individuals who are at or near the age of Medicare eligibility, unfortunately, know too little about Medicare. The reason? Medicare can be confusing. There’s a lot to unpack when it comes to the Medicare world like enrollment periods, plan options, premiums, deductibles, co-pays, and more. Juggling all that can be overwhelming to a new beneficiary and oftentimes leads to a common Medicare mistake that can potentially result in higher costs and limited coverage. The good news is, it can be avoided. Keep reading to find out the common Medicare mistake seniors make.
#1 Medicare Mistake: Not Re-evaluating Medicare Coverage Each Year
Each year Medicare and Insurance carriers make changes to Medicare plans that can affect your healthcare coverage. Oftentimes this results in changes in premiums, deductibles, co-insurance, co-pays, prescription drug options, and other coverage changes. As a result, Medicare offers opportunities for beneficiaries to review the changes to their healthcare plans and adjust their coverage to suit their needs.
Unfortunately, very few Medicare beneficiaries take advantage of the opportunities. According, to a study based on Medicare’s own enrollee survey data as reported in a New York Times article, “ 57 percent [of Medicare beneficiaries] didn’t review or compare their coverage options annually, including 46 percent who “never” or “rarely” revisited their plans.” Not reviewing your Medicare coverage annually is a big Medicare mistake and can leave you with coverage that no longer fits your needs.
One opportunity to make changes to your Medicare coverage is during the Annual Enrollment Period, unfortunately, this opportunity has already come to a close for 2020. However, the good news is there is another opportunity to evaluate and make changes to your healthcare coverage if you missed AEP. That opportunity is known as the Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment period.
What is the Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment Period?
The Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment Period offers Medicare beneficiaries who are currently enrolled in a Medicare Advantage plan the opportunity to make changes to their coverage. This enrollment period is only open to those who currently have a Medicare Advantage plan. The Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment Period also known as MA-OEP, runs from January 1st – March 31st. During this enrollment period you can make the following changes:
- Switch to a different Medicare Advantage plan with or without drug coverage
- Switch back to Original Medicare and enroll in a prescription drug plan if needed
Why Comparing Plans Is Important
Reviewing your healthcare coverage and comparing plans annually is important so that you’re not left with coverage that no longer fits your health needs. As we stated above, Medicare and Insurance carriers make changes to plans each year. These changes are outlined in the Annual Notice of Change Letter that is mailed out to recipients around September each year. Examples of potential changes to plans include:
- Premium Increases
- Deductible Increases
- Co-Insurance Increases
- Co-payment Increases
- Doctor & Hospital Network Changes
- Drug Coverage Changes
Why Medicare Beneficiaries Don’t Review their Healthcare Coverage
Many Medicare beneficiaries choose to not review their healthcare coverage because they find it overwhelming and confusing. During the Fall, beneficiaries are bombarded with commercial ads, emails, brochures, booklets, and more. According to the same New York Times article, “Complexity is a key issue. Kaiser found that 30 percent of enrollees said the Medicare program was either “somewhat difficult” or “very difficult” to understand.” This confusion is, unfortunately, leaving many seniors with healthcare coverage that no longer fits their needs
When Should you Evaluate your Coverage?
Your healthcare coverage should be evaluated throughout the year. Keep a log of things you like or dislike about your current healthcare plan. If you’ve been diagnosed with a new illness that requires a specialist or certain medication check whether or not your plan covers your needs. Keeping track of your needs throughout the year will make it easier and less overwhelming when the Annual Election Period and Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment periods hit.
It is also very important to review changes to your healthcare plan as soon as you receive them to ensure you have enough time to compare plans and make the best choice for your healthcare needs.
Need Help Evaluating your Healthcare Options? Let’s Compare Plans!
Speak with a qualified independent Medicare-focused insurance agent in your area about which plan is right for you. Call us at (714) 834-1322.