Four Tips to Prepare You for This AEP (Annual Enrollment Period)

The AEP is different this year, pay attention to date changes

In years past, the Annual Election Period ran from Nov 15- Dec 31. Beginning in 2012, CMS changed moved the enrollment period to its current timeframe of Oct 15- Dec 7. This 8-week stretch is the opportune time to review all of your Medicare related insurance plans, look at what’s changing, and adjust to make sure you are in the best position moving into 2014.

Review your drug plan

In my opinion, you should do this every year. Your medications may have changed, your plan may be changing, or new plans may be available that could save you hundreds, even thousands, of dollars. The system we use to help clients is available to the general public for use as well. This website gives you the ability to enter in all of your prescribed medications and find the best plan for you-including all relevant cost such as monthly premium, deductibles and copays based on the pharmacy you use.

If you have an Advantage plan, look for benefit changes

Advantage plans are network-based programs that take over and replace your Medicare benefits. How do you know if you have one of these programs? If you have an HMO, PPO, or PFFS plan, then you probably have an Advantage plan. Not sure? Call us and we’ll tell you. Advantage plans are one year contracts (January to January) in which covered benefits, network hospitals and doctors, monthly premium, and copays can and do change every year. The name of the plan may stay the same, but all the particulars under the hood could look completely different. Knowledge is power; make sure you are aware of plan changes so that you can pick a different program if it would better suit you.

Make sure you’re not overpaying for Medigap coverage

Medigap insurance, unlike Advantage plans, supplements your Medicare rather than replacing it. These plans have standardized names and benefits. There are 10 of these plans offered throughout the country (Plan A-N). Plan A is Plan A no matter who you buy it from, it is federally mandated to have the exact same benefits as every other plan A. Plan B is Plan B no matter who you buy it from, you get the idea. Therefore, paying $200/month for Plan A with company one doesn’t make a whole lot of sense if company two will give you the same Plan A for $100/month. Additionally you can see all the same doctors and hospitals no matter which company you buy Plan A from, as long as the doctor participates with original Medicare.