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9 Tips for Medicare Open Enrollment

These tips can help your patients find the best available options

October 19, 2021

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services is reminding everyone that Medicare open enrollment began October 15, 2021, and now is the time to review your coverage options to be sure that you have the plan that best meets your health care needs. During open enrollment, beneficiaries can make changes to their health or prescription drug plans, pick a Medicare Advantage Plan, or return to Original Medicare.

Open enrollment occurs every year from October 15–December 7, with coverage changes taking effect January 1. During this time, people can find a plan that better meets their needs, saves money, or both.

“This is an important time of year for 63 million Medicare beneficiaries across the country to compare coverage options to ensure they are getting the best benefits available at low cost,” said U. S. Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra. “We will continue to strengthen and build upon this critical program that has vastly improved the lives of our seniors. I encourage everyone to take stock of their health and find the best plan for them in 2022.”

Medicare plans change from year to year. Online resources make it easy to compare coverage options and shop for plans. People can do a side-by-side comparison of plan coverage, costs, and quality ratings to help them more easily see the differences between plans. Enrollment assistance is available in your community and at 1-800-MEDICARE.

Here are some things to consider when shopping for Medicare coverage:

  • Check if doctors are still in-network and prescriptions are on the plan’s formulary
  • Realize that the plan with the lowest monthly premium may not always be the best fit for specific health needs
  • Look at the plan’s deductible and other out-of-pocket costs that factor into total costs
  • Know that some plans offer extra benefits, like vision, hearing, or dental coverage, which could help meet individual health care needs
  • Consider whether Original Medicare or a Medicare Advantage Plan is the best choice

Here are four ways to compare plans and look at savings options:

  • Find plans online and do side-by-side comparisons of costs and coverage
  • Call 1-800-MEDICARE. Help is available 24 hours a day, including weekends
  • Access free, personalized health insurance counseling—often available virtually—from State Health Insurance Assistance Program
  • Check eligibility for Medicare Savings Programs. People with Medicare facing challenges paying for health care may qualify for Medicare Saving Programs run by their state. These programs can help save money on premiums, prescription drugs, and other health care costs. If your income for 2021 is below $18,000, it may be worth contacting your state’s Medicaid program about help that may be available to you. Contact 1-800-MEDICARE to find out where to apply

For specific Medicare information, visit Medicare.gov or call 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227). Teletype users can call (877) 486-2048.

For general insurance questions, contact Jolene Calla, Esq., HAP’s vice president, health care finance and insurance.