Why You Should Conduct an Annual Review of Your Medicare Options

Medicare plans may change year by year. It’s important to review your existing plan each year to make sure it’s still a good fit for you, and explore your options if your medical or budgetary needs have changed.

Health insurance can be confusing, and if you’ve recently enrolled in a Medicare plan, you may have been hoping your research was a one-and-done scenario — that you won’t have to think about Medicare options any longer.

But there are actually major benefits to doing an annual review of your Medicare options. By sitting down once a year to understand all of the Medicare plans available to you, you can ensure that you’ll be on the right Medicare plan for you to have the healthcare coverage you may need all year long.

Why Review Medicare Options

Over half of Medicare recipients don’t review or compare coverage options annually. However, there are several reasons why it’s important to review your Medicare options. First, your current Medicare plan simply might not be the right fit for your health needs anymore. Your health and the treatment or prescriptions you need may change over time. You may find that this calls for a change in your Medicare plan, too.

If you don’t review your options annually, or carefully read your current plan's ANOC (annual notice of changes) document, there could be unexpected costs caused by changes in your plan. Or you may find that your current doctors are no longer in network for the upcoming year.

By conducting an annual review, you might be able to find a plan that costs less to cover your prescription drugs.

When to Review Medicare Options

Here are some important dates to keep in mind so you’ll be in the know should any changes occur:

  • September and October — Review any notices from your plan about changes for next year.
  • October 15th — This is the first day of the Annual Enrollment Period and the first day you can make changes to your Medicare coverage for the upcoming year.
  • December 7th — This is the last day of the Annual Enrollment Period and the last day you can change your Medicare coverage (requests must be received by this date)
  • January 1st — Coverage begins for your new plan, or changes go into effect for your existing plan.

How to Review Medicare Options

One in three Medicare recipients — especially those who live with multiple chronic conditions — find the Medicare program difficult to understand. While it can take some time and effort to research your Medicare options, doing so may result in finding the right plan for your health and budgetary needs.

You can research Medicare plans online. This may allow you to learn about different coverage options and how they compare. You’ll be able to access information about various carriers and the plans they have available in your area, and use comparison tools to see how different plans stack up.

You’ll want to review your Medicare benefit options. For instance, each year, Medicare Part D plans and Medicare Advantage plans review which prescription drugs they cover and how those drugs are priced. Some of the prices for drugs might change for the upcoming year, affecting how much you’ll have to pay for your prescriptions.

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