Open enrollment- also known as the Annual Coordinated Election Period, is typically between October 15 through December 7. This is typically the only acceptable timeframe in which you can either change your Medicare private drug plan and/or your Medicare health plan for the following year. This is also the time to enroll in Part D if you did not join it during the Initial Enrollment Period. This enrollment ends on December 15th so that the changes can be implemented beginning on January 1st.  Here is a step-by-step guide of what to keep in mind when open enrollment starts:

Review your current Medicare health and drug coverage. If you are dissatisfied with your coverage, you need to make the changes during the open enrollment period.

  • If you have Original Medicare, then look up the costs and benefits of Medicare for the upcoming year.
  • If you have the Medicare Advantage Plan or a Part D plan, you should receive an Annual Notice of Change (ANOC) and/or Evidence of Coverage (EOC) from your plan. Review the notices for any changes in the plan’s costs, benefits, or rules for the upcoming year.
  • Even if you are satisfied with your current Medicare Plan, it is essential to look at other Medicare options within your area because other plans may better suit your needs for the upcoming year. An example would be to check to see if there is another Medicare plan that has better health and/or drug coverage at a lower price. Research shows that people with Part D could lower their costs by looking at and choosing different plans each and every year. There could be another Part D plan in your area that covers drugs you take with fewer restrictions or lower prices.

If you need help, you can get it.

  • Use Medicare’s Plan Finder tool if you need help finding Part D plans. The finder tool compares plans based on the drugs you need, costs, and the pharmacy you use.
  • If you want to join the Medicare Advantage Plan, call 1-800-MEDICARE to find out which plans are in your area. You will receive a list of plans’ websites or you can call them to see which plan best fits your need.
  • If you research different plans online, also call the plan itself to confirm what you have learned and make sure the information is correct. Also, make sure the plan includes the doctors and hospitals that you visit are in the same network. Confirm that the plan covers all the drugs you take and the pharmacies that you frequent. Write down everything about the conversation if you call, including the date, representative’s name, and any outcomes or next steps you may need to take. The information may help protect you in case a plan representative gives you wrong information.

The best way to enroll in a plan is to do it directly through Medicare.

  • Enrolling in a new plan directly through Medicare is the best way to protect yourself if there are any issues with enrollment. Again, if you speak to a representative, write everything down about that conversation to refer too if there are any issues with enrollment.
  • Before you enroll in a new plan, remember to confirm all the details and information about your new plan with the plan itself.

If you are unhappy with a Medicare Advantage Plan you choose during the open enrollment period, you can disenroll from it and join Original Medicare during the Medicare Advantage Disenrollment Period (MADP).

  • The MADP occurs every year from January 1 through February 14, with changes taking effect on the first of the following month.

Look up if the medical practices you visit will accept the Medicare Plan you choose.

  • At Gonzaba, we accept all of the Medicare Plans. It is important to us that you clearly understand the Medicare plans and get the help you need in choosing the best plan for you.

Visit Gonzaba’s website to learn more about the Medicare Guide and what services we offer at our different medical group locations.