It’s an important time of year for Medicare beneficiaries. Medicare’s “Coordinated Election Period” or “Open Enrollment Period” is in full swing. It started on Saturday, October 15 and continues through Wednesday, December 7, 2016. This Open Enrollment Period happens on these same dates every year—October 15 to December 7.
What Is Open Enrollment?
Open Enrollment is the time that Medicare beneficiaries can make changes to their plans, especially when it comes to Part D Prescription Drug Plans or Medicare Advantage plans. During this time, you can:
Keep in mind that once Open Enrollment closes, you won’t be able to make any changes to your Part D coverage or Medicare Advantage Plan until the next Open Enrollment Period, October 15 to December 7, 2017. (There is a Medicare Advantage Plan Disenrollment Period from January 1 to February 14 of each year.)
I Already Have a Plan I Like. Do I Need to Do Anything?
The experts from the Area Agency on Aging 1-B’Medicare Medicaid Assistance Program (MMAP) strongly recommend reviewing your plan choices every year, especially when it comes to Part D Prescription coverage. Medicare Part D plans vary greatly in terms of monthly premiums, annual deductibles, drugs covered and prescription prices. It is important to review your Part D coverage every year because premiums, co-payments or the drugs covered can change from year-to-year, even within the same plan. Even a change in the medication you’re taking can affect if a plan is right for you.
Your current plan should have sent you an “Annual Notice of Change” in September which outlines any changes to your current plan for next year. If you choose not to make any changes to your current plan, you do not have to take any action. Your plan will simply remain in effect for the 2017 calendar year.
Can I Get Help to Find the Right Plan?
Medicare has a website that will help you fnd a plan (medicare.gov/find-a-plan). You can search for plans by zip code and enter information on the prescriptions you’re taking to find a plan that will work well for you. The site gives you lots of way to sort choices.
The Area Agency on Aging 1-B is also offering Open Enrollment Assistance Day events throughout the six-county region in Michigan that is serves (Livingston, Macomb, Monroe, Oakland, St. Clair and Washtenaw counties.) These events are being held at community venues throughout the region. The events let you meet one-on-one with MMAP’s certified volunteer counselors. They will walk you through plan choices and help you understand which choices might be right for you. The events are completely free, but you do need to register in advance and make an appointment. Please see the full list of 2016 MMAP Open Enrollment Events to find one near you. You can call 800-803-7174 to make an appointment.
When Will My Plan Choices Take Affect?
Choices made during the Open Enrollment Period will take effect on January 1, 2017.
What If I am Having Trouble Paying for My Medicare Plan?
There is financial help available for low-income Medicare beneficiaries through the Extra Help Program and the Medicare Savings Program. The Extra Help Program can help you save on Part D Prescription Plan costs (premiums and deductibles). The Medicare Savings Program can help you with Medicare Part B deductibles and premiums.
What if I Need Help After Open Enrollment?
The Area Agency on Aging 1-B’s MMAP program offers free and unbiased guidance year-round on issues related to Medicare and Medicaid. You can reach MMAP at (800) 803-7174.