In my last post we identified who should pay attention to the Medicare Open Enrollment Period which runs from October 15 through December 7 of this year. In this post I would like to explain what we should be paying attention to and why it is important to review current benefits and changes that are coming.
Each year health care and drug plans change and Medicare Advantage Plans as well as Medicare prescription drug plans must disclose to current insureds what those changes will be. Not noting those changes can prove disastrous as an ill-fitting plan can only be changed at the start of each year.
For those covered on free-standing prescription drug plans as well as those covered on drug plans included in Medicare Advantage plans the following are key considerations:
- Individuals’ medications can change from one year to another. Conditions improve or worsen over a series of years. Prescriptions can be increased or changed due to any number of considerations. For those who review their prescription plan options annually benefits and premiums can be optimal year to year.
- Drug plans often change the copay levels of prescriptions from one year to the next. Sometimes drugs are even removed from plans. It can be a most unpleasant surprise to find out in the New Year that drugs are not covered as they were in a prior year. It can be an even more unpleasant surprise to find out that we are locked in until the following January 1!
- Because individuals are allowed to change drug plans annually we are not forced to enroll in the richest, most expensive plans until we need to. Annual review of our drug lists allows us to move up or move down among plans as our needs change.
For those covered on Medicare Advantage plans annual review of providers as well as drug formularies gives us the best opportunity to optimize our use of these plans. Checking benefit changes will also allow us to prepare for additional expenses we may face. If there are special features that are now available from new plan designs we should make informed decisions if those will benefit us.
We should research our health plans just as we research other expenditures. There are considerations of premiums costs as well as costs of using plans which can mount into thousands of dollars. Avoiding unpleasant surprises and preparing for possible expenses for claims are always healthy habits. Adopting a habit of annual review will help us all to protect our nest eggs for the long term. For assistance in finding the best plan for you, contact us at Czajkowski Dumpel & Associates, Inc. –We are here to help!