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What you need to know about Medicare Open Enrollment
The Medicare Open Enrollment period (October 15-December 7) is the time you can make important decisions for the coming year. Reviewing your coverage and what it means for your health and finances is time well spent.
Each year, insurance companies can make changes to Medicare plans that can impact how much you pay out-of-pocket—like the monthly premiums, deductibles, drug costs and provider or pharmacy “networks.” A network is a list of doctors, hospitals, or pharmacies that negotiate prices with insurance companies. They can also make changes to your plan’s “formulary” (list of covered drugs). Given these yearly changes, it is a good idea to re-evaluate your current Medicare plan each year to make sure it still meets your needs.
Why should you consider re-evaluating your current Medicare coverage?
You can switch to better prescription drug coverage. Using Open Enrollment to switch your drug coverage—or add drug coverage for the first time—can make crucial medications that you need less expensive. It can also ensure that your drug plan still includes and covers the drugs you need.
You can save money and keep your doctor in-network. Switching your Medicare Advantage or Part D plan can potentially save you hundreds of dollars a year—especially if your current plan’s out-of-pocket costs will increase next year. One way to lower your medical costs is to check that your current doctors, hospital, and pharmacy are “in-network” with whatever Medicare Advantage or Part D plan you choose. If your insurance company has changed your plan’s provider or pharmacy network for next year (and your doctor or other resources will no longer be included), you can use Open Enrollment to switch to a plan that will include your current doctors, hospital and/or pharmacy in-network, thereby lowering your medical costs.
You can find a higher quality plan. Finally, check the quality of your plan using the Medicare 5-star ratings system. Plans with a 5-star rating are considered high quality and those with fewer than 3 stars are considered poor quality. If your current plan is ranked as less than a 3, consider using Open Enrollment to switch to a higher rated plan.
(Excerpted from mymedicarematters.org, June 15, 2017.)
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In Missouri and Illinois, Oasis offers free and unbiased assistance provided by knowledgeable, state-certified volunteer Medicare counselors. This is a good option for first-time Medicare enrollment, claims assistance and plan changes.