This Year’s Annual Enrollment Period is Still Open! Do You Have the Coverage You’ll Need for 2012?

If you’re enrolled in Medicare, you can make changes to your Medicare plan during the Annual Enrollment Period (AEP), October 15 – December 7. This enrollment period is for people who wish to join, switch or drop their Medicare Advantage (Medicare Part C) or prescription drug (Medicare Part D)plan. Once the Annual Enrollment Period closes, you will not be able to change your plan again until next year (except under special circumstances). If you take a good look at your specific health care needs, you’ll should be able to decide if you need to take advantage of this year’s AEP while there’s still time.

Assess Your Health Care Needs

How do you know if you need to join, switch or drop your Medicare Advantage or prescription drug coverage during this year’s AEP? There are a few questions you can ask yourself to help assess your health care coverage needs. The answers to these questions can help you decide which kind of Medicare plan is right for you.

  1. How often do you visit the doctor? If you only see your doctor a few times a year, Original Medicare (Medicare Parts A and B) may meet your health care coverage needs. In terms of costs, Original Medicare generally requires only a Part B premium. If you don’t use medical services, you may not pay more than this premium.
  2. Do you have a chronic disease that requires monitoring? Chronic diseases may require intensive health care with frequent visits to doctors or specialists. If you have a chronic disease, many Medicare Advantage plans (Medicare Part C) provide the wide-ranging coverage you might need. If you choose to enroll in a Medicare Advantage plan, you will still have to pay your Part B premium. Some Medicare Advantage plans require a separate premium, as well.
  3. Are you willing to change doctors or pay more to see the doctor you choose? A Medicare Advantage HMO plan requires you to choose from doctors and specialists within a specific network. Your current doctor may or may not be in this network. If they are not and you don’t want to change doctors, you may want to consider a different type of Medicare Advantage plan. Another option might be a Medicare Advantage PPO plan, which does allow you to go out-of-network for some doctors, although you will usually have to pay a larger share of the cost of your care.
  4. How many prescription medications do you take? Medicare Part D helps pay for the prescription drugss you use. Coverage is not automatic, which means you must enroll in a Part D plan if you want coverage. Depending on your prescription coverage needs, you can either enroll in a standalone plan you can use with your Original Medicare coverage, or you can look for a Medicare Advantage plan that includes prescription drug coverage.

Look Back Over the Last Year

Another way to assess your Medicare coverage needs is to consider your health over the last year. Have you been seeing the doctor more and more often or been diagnosed with a chronic medical condition? Have you needed multiple hospitalizations? If your health care needs seem to require a broader range of coverage than in the past, you may want to consider joining a Medicare Advantage plan during this year’s AEP. Most Medicare Advantage plans offer effective, convenient coordinated care between network doctors and specialists that can help ensure allthat your health care needs will be met in the coming year.

Many Medicare Advantage plans include additional benefits, such as dental, vision, hearing and wellness care, and may also include flu shots and other regularly-scheduled immunizations, dietary and education programs and even health club memberships. There is still time to join a Medicare Advantage plan during this year’s AEP if these benefits sound like they would be useful to you in the coming year.

– This information was provide by Medicare Made Clear


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