For those currently on Medicare, there is no doubt that your mailbox and even your television are full of ads about which plan you should enroll in for the Annual Election Period. The plan changes made during this Annual Election Period will go into effect on January 1st, 2019.
The Medicare Annual Election Period, also known as AEP, is the time of year Medicare beneficiaries can change their Medicare coverage. This mostly applies to Medicare Advantage plans and Part D Prescription Drug Plans.
Those with a Medicare Advantage plan can disenroll and go back to Original Medicare coverage, and those with Original Medicare can enroll into a Medicare Advantage plan. Beneficiaries that have a current Medicare Advantage plan and want a new Medicare Advantage plan can change plans during this time as well.
The Annual Election Period takes place from October 15 through December 7th each year. Medicare recipients that enroll into a Prescription Drug Plan after not having Part D coverage may be required to pay the Part D Late Enrollment Penalty.
Being a Medicare beneficiary can be difficult; plans cost change, formulary benefits change, and insurance agents contact you continuously trying to get your business. Going into AEP with a checklist can help you understand what changes need to be made. With that being said; here are some do’s and don’ts you will want to know before you make a commitment to your new coverage.
Things you must do during the annual election period
There are important things to remember when you are a Medicare recipient, and below I have compiled the things you really need to do this AEP.
Find an agent you trust
Talk with a licensed agent, these professionals have a fiduciary responsibility to put you in a Medicare plan that makes sense for you. Licensed insurance agents can answer the important Medicare questions you have been wondering about, they can help you shop for plans available in your area.
The best piece of advice I can give you; find an agent that does not work exclusively for one insurer, you could get stuck in a plan that is not best suited for you.
Agents that are contracted with multiple insurance companies are going to have your best interest in mind, they won’t just be trying to sell you a policy.
Your new agent should make sure that all your doctors, medications and hospitals are in-network; and if you have financial limitations, they will know about federal and state programs that may be available to help you.
Know about new changes
By 2020, Medicare Supplement plans C and F will no longer be accepting beneficiaries. For beneficiaries already enrolled, they will be grandfathered into their coverage benefits.
CMS is always making changes to Medicare, it is important that Medicare beneficiaries keep updated on these changes.
Get ready to answer some questions
The best insurance agents will ask the best questions. Like; what is important to you when it comes to your coverage? Do you want a policy without co-payments? Do you have a doctor you love and can’t go without? What prescriptions do you need to be covered by your plan?
There are plenty more, this is just an example. The only way to be sure you get the best policy for your needs is to do a needs analysis. This allows agents to eliminate the plans that won’t fit your lifestyle and offer you the plan or plans that will be most suitable.
If you are looking to disenroll from a Medicare Advantage plan and enroll into a Medicare Supplement, you will likely go through a process called underwriting.
Generally, the only time beneficiaries qualify for a Guaranteed Issue Medicare Supplement is when they are first eligible for Medicare. If you are no longer eligible for Guaranteed Issue, answering questions about your health may be necessary.
Don’t do it!
Medicare agents who sell plans are obligated to follow federal and state laws. There are laws in place that bar agents from being able to show up at your house uninvited to sell or endorse any Medicare-related product.
Don’t trust any insurance agent
If an “agent” ever shows up at your door uninvited, do not speak with them, they are not following the rules and you shouldn’t trust people who don’t follow the rules.
An agent or broker can never offer you cash for your enrollment into a plan. For example; if agent Joe says he will give you $25 cash to enroll in his plan, he is not following federal and state insurance sales guidelines.
It is also illegal for agents to charge you a fee to process your enrollment, do not be fooled by unethical people. Know what your rights are as a Medicare beneficiary and have a reliable, trustworthy licensed agent in your state.
This is an important time for a change, go with an agent that makes good choices, an agent that you can trust.
Don’t believe there are no changes
Medicare Advantage plans change every year, and so do Part D Prescription Drug Plans. It is very important that you get the best plan for you. Whether you have a limited income or a hefty income, why would you want a plan that doesn’t cover what you need?
There are going to be changes, thankfully, but with the right Insurance Agent in your corner, you can confidently get coverage that meets your needs.
Don’t think that just because you have Medicare, you’re eligible for every plan
There are going to be some eligibility questions associated with most plans. Talking to your agent about a chronic condition could lead to the agent finding a Special Needs Plan, designed with your needs in mind.
There are some health issues that would prevent you from enrolling in certain plans, and others that are no big deal. Talking with an insurance agent will get you the best results.
Now you know
Knowledge is power, if you are educated about Medicare and you’re a Medicare beneficiary, you should still work with a licensed insurance agent in your state to ensure you receive the best value policy. If you are not educated on Medicare, having an agent in your corner with your best interest in mind will be the best decision you ever made.
Insurance agents are available to you, they can help ensure you are confident in your coverage, your policy, and any potential health care services you need. Trusting your agent is a must, if you can’t trust your insurance agent, then you need a new one.
Things are going to change; there was a time before Medicare and then that changed. There was a time when Medicare Supplements could cover prescription drugs, and then there was a change. No matter what you think has or has not changed, be sure to talk with a professional, this way you know what to expect.
Unfortunately, most Medicare plans have guidelines about who will qualify for the plans they offer. Sometimes this is per Medicare guidelines and sometimes it is just company guidelines. If you have a special chronic condition, there may be a plan that will fit your needs.
If you are unsure if you qualify, speak to a professional, there may be a plan designed just for you available in your area. If you ask, you might receive.
Regardless of the plan, you opt into; know what you need to look for in an agent, make your checklist so you know what you want in an insurance policy, and stay in the know. If you do these things, you’re sure to enjoy your coverage at the start of next year.