Whether you’re already enrolled in Medicare or you’re just starting to ponder your options, there is a lot to consider during the Medicare open enrollment period.
Here are 5 things you need to know in preparation for Medicare open enrollment, so you can choose your Medicare plan with confidence.
Medicare open enrollment period happens annually
Medicare’s open enrollment period, also known as “annual election period” or “annual enrollment period,” takes place each year from October 15th through December 7th. During Medicare open enrollment, you can change your plan, purchase additional coverage, or disenroll from a Medicare plan for the upcoming year
Most people first become eligible for Medicare at age 65, but your Initial Coverage Election Period (ICEP) begins 3 months before the month of your 65th birthday, includes your birthday month, and continues through the 3 months that follow.
Because there is a delay from the date of your enrollment to the activation of your plan, try to enroll during the 3-month period before your birthday to avoid a gap in your coverage.
If you miss your 7-month ICEP, you’ll need to wait for the Medicare Open Enrollment Period to enroll in a Medicare Advantage or prescription drug plan.
Medicare open enrollment period allows you to adjust your Medicare options
Healthcare needs can change—overnight or over time—so it’s good to know your plan can change, too. If you already have a Medicare plan but it’s not checking all your boxes, or if you just want to see if you’re missing out on any new coverage or benefits, the Medicare open enrollment period allows you to explore your options.
If you decide you need a different Medicare plan, you can use Medicare’s annual enrollment period each year to make changes.
Medicare defined in 4 parts
How many (or few) parts of Medicare you need depends on you. Original Medicare is provided by the Federal government and comes in 2 parts—Part A and Part B:
- Medicare Part A is hospital insurance. It has no premium cost if you’ve paid payroll taxes for at least 10 years.
- Medicare Part B is medical insurance. It requires you to pay premiums, copays and deductibles, like similar to private insurance companies. In 2022, the Part B premium is $170.10 (or higher depending on your income).
Beyond Original Medicare, there is further coverage through Parts C and D:
- Medicare Part C (Medicare Advantage) is offered by private insurers and often combines Parts A, B and D in 1 plan.
- Medicare Part D is prescription drug coverage. It is an optional prescription drug plan offered through private companies.
Whether you’re already enrolled in Medicare or you’re just starting to think through your options, there is a lot to consider. If you have other coverage through an employer or your spouse, you can opt out of Part B when you first become eligible. By doing so, you can delay having to pay the Part B premium until you need the coverage.
Part C Medicare Advantage plans and Part D stand-alone prescription drug plans are only available through private insurance companies like Humana.
Medicare isn’t free
And it doesn’t cover everything.
It pays to do a little math. Review your expenses from last year so you can anticipate what your future needs may be.
Original Medicare includes hospital (Part A) and medical care (Part B), but it doesn’t cover prescription drugs or routine vision, dental or hearing care. Do you take daily medications? Do you wear glasses or contacts or need hearing aids? You’ll be paying out of pocket costs for those items. However, your deductibles and copays may be lower if you’re enrolled in a Medicare Part C plan.
Many Medicare Advantage plans include coverage for prescriptions and may offer dental and vision benefits. You may need to pay a monthly premium in addition to the Part B premium, but it may be worth it based on your needs.
An unexpected hospital visit, or a toothache that turns into a root canal could quickly blow your budget. Compare the coverage and cost options from the government and private insurers, like Humana, to make sure you’re getting the coverage you need.
Humana can help
Like you, we want this chapter of your life to be a healthy, happy and fulfilling one. If all the options and information start to feel a little overwhelming, don’t worry. We’re here to help you make sense of it all so you can choose your plan with confidence.
Licensed Humana sales agents are just a phone call away. You can schedule an appointment to talk with a Humana sales agent to explore your options.
You can also contact Medicare directly for more information by calling 800-MEDICARE (800-633-4227) (TTY: 877-486-2048) 24 hours a day, or by visiting the Medicare website.