Just as getting a driver’s license seems to occupy the mind of every almost-16-year-old, enrolling in Medicare occupies the mind of everyone nearing retirement. The problem with Medicare, a federal insurance program designed for people older than 65, is that it often seems complicated and confusing. Since there are multiple plans and various enrollment periods, how can you make sense of all the information? Here’s a breakdown of Medicare’s open enrollment period and the options available to you.

When Is Medicare Open Enrollment?

The Medicare open enrollment period happens at the same time every year due to the changes in 2011.. For coverage in 2019, open enrollment will run from October 15, 2018, to December 7, 2018. Once December 8th hits, the enrollment period closes until the following October. During this time, current Medicare users can switch coverage or add or drop parts of their plan.

Open enrollment is not for those who have never signed up for Medicare, unless the open enrollment period also falls during your initial enrollment time, which begins three months before you turn 65 and ends three months after the month you turn 65. But if you only signed up for Medicare Parts A & B during your initial enrollment, open enrollment gives you the opportunity to make changes to your coverage.

Medicare Coverage Packs Available During Open Enrollment

Here is what you can do with your Medicare plan during open enrollment:

  • If you have Parts A & B, you can switch to Medicare Part C (or Medicare Advantage), which is often contracted by companies that have an agreement with Medicare. This service includes the coverage of both Plan A and Plan B (Original Medicare), as well as additional services like prescription drug coverage and private fee-for-service plans.
  • If you have Medicare Part C, you can switch it back to Original Medicare (Parts A & B)
  • You can reevaluate your Part C plan and switch to a different Medicare Advantage plan.
  • If you already have Parts A & B, you can join or drop a Part D prescription drug plan, This part of Medicare adds the prescription drug coverage for Original Medicare, private fee-for-service plans, and some Medicare cost plans.
  • You can switch your Part D prescription drug plan to a different Part D plan.

Cost Of Medicare

The cost of Medicare insurance depends on a variety of factors. While many people choose Plan A, the premium for Plan B is paid automatically and costs about $134 monthly on average. The cost may vary depending on your income, whether or not you’re still working, and when you originally enrolled. Review the factors to get the best coverage.

As an example to determine cost, if you worked for more than 10 years, your monthly cost for the Plan A premium is $0 because you paid it while you worked. But the costs get higher if you worked for fewer than 10 years, climbing to $422 a month.

The Plan B premium also offers coinsurance after you’ve paid your deductible. This means that for some services you’ll pay only 20% of the total cost.

Improving Coverage During Medicare Open Enrollment

Plan C and Plan D are some of the service packs with the most coverage. Financially speaking, they’re some of the safest plans. If you have either the basic Plan A or Plan B, you can improve your coverage using Medigap. This will help you cover some of the services that are not covered by the higher coverage plans. Part C is also a good choice because it covers services like dental and hearing health that are not covered by the basic insurance packs.

As you can see, Medicare is complicated and ever-evolving, so don’t try to handle the intricacies alone. At Mason Life Planning, we want to ensure that you have a plan to cover all aspects of your retirement and are taking full advantage of all the retirement benefits available to you. If you need help evaluating your Medicare options, reviewing your insurance coverage, or just want to ask a couple of questions, we’re here to help.

About Mason & Associates, Inc.

Mason & Associates, Inc. was founded in 1989, specializing in Life Planning for individuals, families and small businesses. Life Planning places a person’s core life values at the heart of the advice process and focuses on the human aspects of financial planning.

As a client, your personal story is key to our planning process. That is why we strive to build a close relationship that will encompass every aspect of your life. Together with our team of professionals, we guide you through the process of identifying what is important to you, your goals, your dreams. We then put into place a financial road map to set you on your way towards achieving your objectives.

Our responsibility does not end there. As you encounter bumps in the road, changes in goals or any other roadblocks, we are there to offer advice and guidance. We are there to celebrate your successes and cope with your challenges. We work alongside your other professionals such as your attorney and your CPA to be sure all of your legal and financial needs are aligned.