Do you need to update your Medicare plan? Older adults enrolled in Medicare have until Dec. 7 to adjust their existing plans, or switch plans if necessary.
During Medicare’s annual election period, users can switch from Original Medicare to Medicare Advantage, or vice versa.
Original Medicare users can see any doctor who accepts the plan and often don’t need referrals to see a specialist. Medicare Advantage users can only use doctors who are in the plan’s network and may require referrals for additional care. There are also differences in the cost and coverage of each plan.
Some Medicare Advantage Plans also offer flex cards, which work as debit cards that can be used to purchase medical equipment and pay some other medical-related expenses.
During the annual election, users can also switch from one Medicare Advantage plan to another, or from one Medicare Part D plan to another. Users who aren’t enrolled in Part D, which covers medical prescriptions, can join at this time. Changes made during elections go into effect Jan. 1 of the following year.
The Medicare general enrollment period starts Jan. 1 and ends March 15. This is for those who didn’t register for Medicare Part A (insurance for inpatient care) or Medicare Part B (insurance for outpatient care). Coverage for those enrolling during this period starts July 1.
Although those making changes to existing plans must do so by Dec. 7, Medicare Savings Programs are open for enrollment year-round.
“You can apply for the Medicare Saving Programs at any time during the year because you are applying to your state’s Medicaid office and not Medicare,” said K. Katrice Daniels, a licensed health and insurance broker. “The Medicare Savings Program is a federally funded program administered by each individual state. These programs are for people with limited income and resources to help pay some or all of their Medicare premiums, deductibles, copayments and coinsurance.”
Those who want to enroll in additional Medicare programs – or alter the plans they currently have – can enter their ZIP code on the Medicare election website to get started.