From Area VI Agency on Aging
The annual Open Enrollment Period for Medicare has rolled around again. Last year in our Polson office alone we served over 300 clients and saved folks approximately $246,000 for 2019. That’s not even counting all the beneficiaries served in our other counties of Lincoln, Mineral and Sanders. Medicare beneficiaries have until Dec. 7 to look over next year’s plans and make changes if they choose. Since Dec. 7 falls on a Saturday this year, Friday Dec. 6 is the last day we will be able to assist you.
Even if your plan is available next year, it may no longer be the most economical one for you. We use the Medicare Planfinder tool at www.medicare.gov to determine which is the most economical plan for you, given your specific prescription needs. You can also access this tool on your own by going to www.medicare.gov. Just look for the square button marked “Find Health and Drug Plans”.
Those who are on Original Medicare have stand-alone Prescription Drug Plans ( PDP). What plans are available and the costs change every year. We have noticed that one company has changed their plan names, and will automatically roll you into a more expensive plan if you do nothing. By the time your new bill arrives in January it will be too late to change. If you decide on a different plan, we can sign you up for the new plan starting Jan. 1, 2020 and your old plan will automatically end Dec. 31, 2019. Your coverage will be uninterrupted.
Those who are enrolled in Medicare Advantage Plans (MA) have both medical and prescription coverage. Besides using the Planfinder tool to check your prescription coverage, we can also go over a summary of the medical coverage and co-pays for the plans available. The options available for your county and what is included in the prices change every year, as well as the base monthly premium. You also need to make sure your providers are still in-network for your plan.
Whether you have a PDP or an MA, changes for 2020 must be made in the Oct. 15-Dec. 7 window. Open Enrollment does not have any effect on your Medicare parts A and B. It also does not affect a Medigap (Medicare Supplement) plan. However, you can join a Medicare Advantage plan and drop your Medigap at this time. Keep in mind that if you have had Medicare Part B for more than six months you are outside the Guaranteed Acceptance window for Medigap. If you drop your Medigap plan you may not be able to get it back. Confused? If you have questions or need an appointment in Lake, Lincoln, Mineral, or Sanders counties, call us at 883-7284 or 1-800-266-4188.