Medicare is confusing. Add annual enrollment into the mix and it easily starts to feel like you are walking through a maze blindfolded. I know that if you are Medicare eligible, you are currently receiving countless calls at mealtimes, mail from everywhere and multiple promises that any and all your Medicare problems can be solved during this Medicare Annual Enrollment Period (AEP).
The truth is there is no “one size fits all” solution when it comes to Medicare. It is important to talk one-on-one with a credentialed individual that will get to know you and your specific situation. Only then, can a plan be customized that is right for you and your family.
Throughout the year, I am asked all kinds of questions about Medicare Part A & Part B, Medicare Supplements, Part D Prescription Drug Plans, Advantage Plans and Enrollment Periods. The opportunity to help others navigate all the questions surrounding Medicare is the favorite part of my job. So, I thought I would share answers to the three most common questions I am asked during AEP.
Question 1: Why would I need anything other than Medicare Part A, Part B & Part D (prescription drugs)?
The simple answer is this: If you have Medicare Part A & B only, then you will be responsible for the 20% of your healthcare costs that Medicare Part A & B does not pay. Medicare will be faithful to pay their 80%, but that 20% will follow you the entire year with no out-of-pocket maximum. The 2020 Medicare & You Handbook tells us on Page 7 in bold letters “there’s no yearly limit on what you pay out-of-pocket, unless you have supplemental coverage.” This means that your potential financial exposure could be significant if you were to have a major medical event. Having supplemental coverage protects you and your family financially.
Question 2: What if I cannot afford a Medicare Supplement? What can I do?
There are a wide variety of plans and Medicare options available to fit all budget sizes, whether you are still working or living on a fixed income. Which brings me back to the importance of what I said earlier. Speaking with an individual that specializes in Medicare is so important. Good agents will take the time to meet with you in person (if desired), walk you through all your available options, answer your questions and ensure that the choices or changes you make go as smoothly as possible.
Question 3: What can I do during this year’s AEP (Annual Enrollment Period) of October 15 – December 7, 2021?
First and foremost: Remember, any changes you make during AEP become effective January 1st of the following year. They do not go into effect immediately or the following month.
Second: If you make a change during this time, and then decide you want to make a different choice, you can do that. But, remember the last choice you make by December 7th is the choice that will go into effect on January 1, 2021. So make sure that the decision you make during AEP is one you are willing to live with for the coming year.
Third. There are many things you can do during AEP:
- If you are on original Medicare Part A & Part B only, you can change to an Advantage Plan.
- If you are on an Advantage Plan, you can change and go back to original Medicare.
- If you are on an Advantage Plan, you can change to a different Advantage Plan.
- If you are on a Supplement, you can change to an Advantage Plan.
- If you are on an Advantage plan, you can change to a Supplement.
- If you are on original Medicare and do not have a Part D prescription drug plan, you can select one.
- If you are on a Part D prescription drug plan and want to change to a different Part D plan, you can do that.
- If you are on a Part D prescription drug plan and do not want it any longer, you can cancel it. Be careful here. If you go without a Part D prescription drug plan, you may incur a penalty based on the months you do not have one.
If you have any questions or would like to get together for a review, my door is open and phone readily available to help. It is so important to make good decisions over the next couple of months. The goal of all our White & Associates agents to is ensure you can sleep soundly knowing you had your questions answered by a credentialed professional.
Rick Brubaker, Senior Specialist