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It’s that time again….October 15 to December 7th is open enrollment for Medicare Advantage. You can enroll or change your plan if you are already enrolled. And to understand this government program, one must have a taste for…you guessed it, alphabet soup. If Medicare confuses you, you are not alone.
Individuals aged 65 and older, the disabled, and those with End-Stage Renal Disease are eligible for Medicare Parts A and B. If you are 65 or older, enrollment in Medicare Part A (hospital benefits) should be taken care of automatically, but you must enroll yourself in Part B (medical coverage) and Part D (prescription drug benefits).
Enrollment in or changes to your Advantage Plan coverage (aka Part C), or Medigap coverage after you turn 65, must also be made during the open enrollment period. Be aware that there is a late enrollment penalty for Part B, which is basically your medical coverage. This penalty is steep, and for life! Your premiums could go up by as much as 10% for every twelve- month period you delay. Medicare Advantage plans are offered by private insurers and may yield savings in your out-of- pocket costs and can offer additional benefits as well. However, depending upon the provider network in the HMO, PPO, or POS, you may have fewer choices of when picking your physician. Medicare Supplement Plans are often referred to as Medigap plans. There are many different types of Medigap plans and luckily, the good folks at www.medicare.gov have a chart that gives us ease of comparison.
Just remember that Medicare Parts A and B will continue to be your primary medical coverage. Your Medigap policy works closely with Medicare in order to help cover out of pocket cost, co-pays, deductibles and other “gaps” that exist with Parts A and B. For more on how the above penalties are calculated, and exceptions to the rule, follow this link.
Like most things in life, 2017 premiums, co-payments and deductibles are all going up a bit. However, Part D (prescriptions drug) may actually decrease a slightly in 2018. This would be the first such decrease in five years.
For more information, see the Mediare article below: