How And When To Change Medicare Plans

To get better coverage and save money, you may want to change Medicare plans during the Medicare Open Enrollment period from Oct. 15 to Dec. 7. You can switch from one Medicare Advantage plan to traditional Medicare or another Medicare Advantage plan (or from traditional Medicare to a Medicare Advantage plan). And, you can switch from one Part D prescription drug plan to another.

For sure, if you have a
-- or a Medicare Part D drug plan, it's smart to see whether your benefits and your out-of-pocket costs, including your premiums, deductibles and copays are changing. And, you should consider your options. It's likely that your Medicare Advantage plan costs and benefits will be different in 2017. Here's what you need to know about your options before deciding what to do:
  • Traditional Medicare:
    • Traditional Medicare is the health coverage you get directly from the federal government. It is the choice of the vast majority of people with Medicare because it covers care from most doctors and hospitals throughout the country.
    • You pay a deductible -- your out-of-pocket cost before your coverage begins -- and coinsurance for most of your care; but, you can fill gaps in coverage with supplemental insurance.
    • Supplemental insurance -- Medicaid, retiree coverage from a job or a Medicare supplemental insurance plan you can buy -- fills all or most Medicare coverage gaps. You need this insurance to protect you from paying a lot out of pocket if you need costly care. It also allows you to budget for your health care.
  • Medicare Advantage plans:
If you're enrolled in a Medicare Advantage plan:
  • Look at the plan's Annual Notice of Change (ANOC) or Evidence of Coverage (EOC) to see new premiums, deductibles and copays. If you're OK with them, make sure your doctors and hospital are still in the network.
  • Check out your other health plan options, including traditional Medicare. You may find that another option better meets your needs. If you need help figuring out what to do, you can call your State Health Insurance Program or SHIP . You can also call 1-800-633-4227 (1-800-Medicare). And, you can use this Medicare tool to understand your options.
  • You should not switch to another Medicare Advantage plan until you have called the plan to make sure you fully understand your costs and which doctors and hospitals are in the network.
  • To switch to traditional Medicare or another Medicare Advantage plan, call 1-800-633-4227 (1-800-Medicare) to let Medicare know.
  • After switching to a Medicare Advantage plan, if you don't like it, you can dis-enroll any time between Jan. 1 and Feb. 14 and enroll in traditional Medicare (but you will want to get Medicare supplemental insurance as well.)
  • Look at the drug plan's Annual Notice of Change (ANOC) or Evidence of Coverage (EOC) to see new premiums, deductibles and copays or coinsurance. If you're OK with them, check to see what you'll pay for the drugs you're taking.
  • Look at other drug plan options. There could be a plan that covers your drugs for less money. Medicare offers a tool for comparing drug plans.
If you want to switch plans, your new coverage will begin on Jan. 1.

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