4 Things to Know, Medicare's Fall Open Enrollment 2021

​​Trying to choose the best Medicare plan to manage your healthcare costs can be a minefield. Here are four ways to find and choose the best Medicare plan during open enrollment, as well as information about new developments in 2021 that can help save you money.

1.    Know your open enrollment basics

The open enrollment period lasts from October 15 through December 7 each year. Here’s what you can do during open enrollment:

  • Change from Original Medicare to Medicare Advantage
  • Change from Medicare Advantage to Original Medicare
  • Change Medicare Advantage plans
  • Change Medicare Part D prescription drug plans
  • Enroll in a Medicare Part D prescription drug plan for the first time

It’s extremely important to take this time to do your research and choose an ideal Medicare Advantage plan or decide to go with Original Medicare, as you will be locked into your plan for the next year excluding a few select circumstances such as moving across state lines.

There are some things you can’t do during the open enrollment period, that need to wait for the general enrollment period which runs from January 1 to March 31. These are:

  • Enroll in a Medigap plan
  • Enroll in Medicare Part B for the first time if you didn’t enroll when you were originally eligible and don’t have a Medicare Part B special enrollment period
  • Enroll in Medicare Part A for the first time if you didn’t enroll when you were originally eligible and have to pay a premium for Medicare Part A
  • If you fall into the above categories, you need to enroll during the general enrollment period and your coverage will begin July 1.

2.    You don’t just want to stick with the same Medicare Advantage plan

Each year, Medicare Advantage plans change their coverage and premiums. You might find that after staying on the same plan for five years, your premiums have increased while some of your doctors are no longer in-network.

That’s why every open enrollment period is a great opportunity to check your options and make sure your current plan is still the best option for you. How much does Medicare cost? You’ll want to check how much your plan costs both in terms of premiums as well as out-of-pocket maximums in case of an expensive and difficult health event. You may find that your plan continues to fit your needs perfectly — but ignoring your Plan Annual Notice of Change could lead you locked into a plan that no longer fits you.

3.    Expect more telehealth and long-term care options

Another reason to investigate your options this year? Medicare Advantage plans are going to have expanded telehealth coverage responding to the changing ways people are accessing medical care due to the COVID-19 pandemic. If you’ve been dissatisfied with the availability of in-network doctors for virtual visits, this could be a great way to find coverage for that gap.

Additionally, long-term care tools and supports such as in-home aides, home safety modifications and even transportation will now be covered under some Medicare Advantage plans.

4.    Big benefits for diabetics and ESRD patients

One in three people on Medicare has diabetes and knows the cost of insulin can be challenging to manage. However, new Part D prescription plans will be designed specifically to mitigate the monthly cost of this prescription, ensuring that it doesn’t exceed $35/month.

Additionally, people with end-stage renal disease (ESRD) have been restricted from Medigap and Medicare Advantage plans except under select circumstances. Now, that restriction will be lifted, allowing a much higher variety and level of coverage for those dealing with ESRD.

Source: iQuanti, Inc.

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Categories: Healthcare

Tags: Healthcare, Medicare, Medicare Advantage, Open Enrollment