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6 Tips for Finding a Medicare Plan During the Medicare Annual Election Period

6 Tips for Finding a Medicare Plan During the Medicare Annual Election Period

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Medicare enrollment periods are a critical time for any Medicare beneficiary and the Medicare Annual Election Period is no exception. The Medicare Annual Election Period (AEP) is sometimes also called the Annual Enrollment Period or “open enrollment.” It occurs from October 15 through December 7 each year and allows beneficiaries to drop or enroll in Medicare Advantage Plans (Part C) and Medicare Prescription Drug Plans (Part D).

You can change plans as many times as you want during this period, but the last plan you enroll in will be locked in for the next year, with only a few exceptions. There are a few steps you can take to make the most of this important enrollment period.

1. Review Your Benefits

This is a great time to review your coverage benefits and document any changes in your needs. You may find that you’re missing benefits you would really like to have, or that changes in your situation over the past year have made certain benefits more important than others. Making a few notes about your benefits can help you when you look for Medicare plans.

2. Document Your Doctors and Prescriptions

Using in-network healthcare providers and prescriptions can significantly impact your healthcare costs. Before researching plans, make a list of your doctors and current medications so that you can review that list against plan networks. You may also want to make note of providers you would be willing to change for a plan with benefits or savings you value.

Making all these notes ahead of time may seem tedious, but it will save you time when you’re looking at plans or working with an insurance agent. It can be difficult to remember provider or prescription names on the spot.

3. Check for Extra Savings

Healthcare savings in Medicare can come from many different places. Two common ones include dual Medicaid coverage and plan rates. Medicaid coverage varies by state, but if you’re eligible, may reduce your costs on prescriptions and premiums. It never hurts to check whether you’re eligible. You can also compare the Medicare plans in your area, which may include some with $0 premiums or other savings.

If the Annual Election Period coincides with your Initial Enrollment Period or a Special Enrollment Period caused by retiring, moving, or other changes in your coverage, you’ll want to be especially careful of extra fees. Delaying your Part B enrollment or choosing not to enroll in prescription drug coverage can saddle you with Medicare penalties for the duration of your time on Medicare. That may not sound like much when it looks like you can get out of monthly premium payment for a few years, but 20 or 30 years of penalties can add up quickly.

4. Don’t Limit Yourself by Carrier

Most areas offer Medicare plans from a number of different insurance carriers. Don’t limit yourself to one carrier website or agent. If you do, you may be missing out on a plan with the benefits or savings you want. Some companies work with multiple carriers to help you receive a more comprehensive view of your coverage options. is an example of a company like that. Through their online portal and agent phone consultations, they help Medicare beneficiaries find plans with a number of top carriers.

5. Keep Your Cards Close

While you’re reviewing Medicare plans, you will very likely need information such as your Medicare number and effective dates, zip code, email address, phone number, and more. Gathering this information and keeping it handy can make the research and enrollment process go more smoothly. You may also want to have pen and paper nearby for note taking.

6. Get a No-Cost Consultation and Enrollment

Working with a licensed insurance agent to find and enroll in a plan should not cost you anything. While you do still have to pay your Medicare premiums and the premiums of the plan you choose to enroll, the actual consultation and enrollment should not have a fee.

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With these tools, we hope you’re more equipped to assess Medicare plans this Annual Election Period and choose a plan that works well for you.


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Posted-In: Health Care General