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Medicare Annual Enrollment Period

By: Reid Mathews, CFP, RICP, CLTC

This will be my eighth annual enrollment period as an advisor offering Medicare supplements. I have taken countless exams and tests about this program, and I am very passionate about helping people understand how complex and then potentially how simple enrolling in Medicare supplemental plans can be. I sometimes refer to myself as the Medicare Master (haha!), and I like to take my clients through a 90 second Medicare 101 class when they meet with me. There are multiple “enrollment periods” throughout the year, and we are coming up on one of the most popular periods, the Annual Enrollment Period --- October 15 through December 7.

What are some possible changes that someone on Medicare can make October 15 through December 7?

• You can switch from Original Medicare to Medicare Advantage or vice versa.

• You can also switch from one Medicare Advantage plan to another.

• You can switch from one Medicare Part D (prescription drug) plan to another.

• If you didn’t sign up for a Part D plan when you were first eligible, you can do so during this time frame, although a late enrollment penalty may apply.

Medicare Supplements (Medigap)

Medicare supplemental plans are like the F, G, N, K, etc. plans. You may switch this AT ANY TIME during the year, but you must be able to answer the health questions and pass underwriting. Any doctor in the country that accepts Medicare services MUST accept your Medigap policy. These plans are more expensive, but they offer much more comprehensive coverage. As of 2020, the F plan will no longer be offered to people joining Medicare. If you already have the F plan, you will be grandfathered in.

Medicare Advantage (PPO, HMO, SNP, PFFS, MSA)

Generally speaking, Medicare Advantage plans have a lower premium than Medigap. Also, if you choose a PPO, you can go to any doctor that receives Medicare! The downside to having a Medicare Advantage plan would be that your out-of-pocket expenses would be much higher than with Medigap if you use it frequently. If your health changes dramatically while on a Medicare Advantage plan, you will NOT be able to switch back to a Medigap policy. These plans are getting very competitive now with the cost of health insurance increasing dramatically. We are offering multiple Medicare Advantage plans now to better serve our clients; so if you are interested in learning more about them, please call our office!

Prescription Drug Coverage (Part D)

There is no one-size-fits-all Prescription Drug card. Many of them change every year, and your specific medications will determine which card is best for you. We have taken the time to get licensed with multiple drug card companies so we can offer you the best rates and the best coverage tailored to your specific needs. Choosing the right plan could save you and your family thousands of dollars.

Health insurance is a big deal which is why becoming eligible for Medicare can be such a daunting task for many people. At Berry Financial Group, it is our goal to give you peace of mind with every aspect of your financial plan. Our average client is 64.7 years of age, so Medicare planning is a very important part of our practice. If you or someone you know has questions about enrolling in Medicare, choosing a Medigap or Advantage plan, or needs help with a Part D prescription drug plan, call our office today. We would love to help you with all of your financial needs, including health insurance.

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