Medicare annual enrollment: What you should know

By The Health News Team | November 22, 2022
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If you are a Medicare enrollee, you have likely received dozens of pieces of mail and seen TV commercials about the Medicare annual enrollment period. It’s important to understand what this important time period is and the options available to you.

Legal advisors suggest you review your will and trust on your birthday. Even if you haven’t won the lottery and nothing has changed, it’s good advice.

Medicare offers this same opportunity to review your coverage and make changes to better suit your needs. Each year, Oct. 15 to Dec. 7 is the Medicare annual enrollment period. Any changes made during this time become effective Jan. 1 of the following year.

What are the reasons you may want to review and change your plan?

  • Prescription drug changes

  • Changes in income

  • Looking for more or better medical or ancillary services

  • Interested in saving money

  • Looking to change your doctor or health care organization

All of these reasons can be discussed with a licensed Medicare specialist. These specialized agents can review your present plans and offer suggestions to improve your coverage and possibly save you money.

Benefits of Medicare advantage plans
Sharp HealthCare accepts Original Medicare and all Medicare supplement (sometimes called Medigap) plans. But supplement plans have a monthly premium in addition to your Part B monthly premium. You also need to choose a prescription drug plan (Part D) and pay a premium.

This means someone with this type of coverage will have three premiums to pay each month: Medicare Part B, the supplement plan premium and the prescription drug plan premium. It can really add up.

Medicare Advantage plans offered by Sharp Health Plan and UnitedHealthcare are also accepted at Sharp. (Sharp does not accept advantage plans from other insurance carriers such as Aetna, Blue Cross or Humana.) Medicare Advantage plans have many advantages, including:

  • Prescription drug coverage (no need to purchase a separate Part D plan)

  • Vision coverage

  • Dental coverage

  • Hearing services

  • Fitness memberships

  • Worldwide emergency coverage

One of the best advantages of the Medicare Advantage plans is coordinated care. Your primary care doctor works in partnership with specialty doctors and you to maintain your optimal health. If you become sick, your care is coordinated by your doctors with you.

Medicare Advantage plans also provide predictable costs and annual caps on hospitalizations. When enrolled with a Medicare Advantage plan, you know what your copays are for doctor visits, diagnostic services and other medical needs.

Many also offer a “cap” on fees you must pay annually. If you experience a challenging year with your health, your insurance plan covers everything after you reach a certain amount. This service can lessen the anxiety during difficult times.

Learn more about Sharp HealthCare’s free virtual and in-person classes on the Medicare annual enrollment period.

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