Medicare plans can seem overly complicated to the uninitiated. Plans may look the same but feature some seemingly small changes that make big differences.
We recently asked two Medicare experts for answers and opinions on popular questions and topics. The following questions and answers were transcribed from our interview posted on YouTube. The Medicare experts we interviewed were LaMonica Thomas and David Ireland.
This article contains the information LaMonica & David talk about regarding Medicare plans, changes, and how to be ready for them.
Do Medicare Plans Change?
David Ireland: Every year there\’s something called the Medicare annual enrollment period that runs from October 15 through December 7th. If you\’re on Medicare or about to be, you can\’t miss it!
You\’re going to know that it is the time of year to be able to change your plan because your mailbox is going to be overflowing every day. Every time you turn on the TV you\’re going to see Medicare plan commercials.
So during this time of year, when everybody on Medicare can make a change to their plan, patients can change from one Advantage plan to another, change from an Advantage to a supplement, or change a standalone drug plan. Any change a patient wants to make can happen during the annual enrollment period. New plans take effect on the first of January each year.
Typically, however, you\’re locked into your plan for that year after annual enrollment. If you want to make a change after that, you can do so during that next annual enrollment period.
If you\’re currently happy with your plan and there\’s no reason to change, however, you don\’t have to do anything. You\’re automatically re-enrolled into your previous plan if you don’t make changes.
Medicare Special Election Periods
Some people do have the option to change their pain throughout the year with something called special election periods. This can include things like having Medicare and Medicaid–you can change your plan throughout the year. If you have Medicare but don\’t have medicaid and receive some kind of state assistance a low-income subsidy (also known as extra help) pays for prescription drugs.
If you work past 65 and retire in the middle of the year or you move out of your state, lots of things like that allow you to change your plan throughout the year may also become temporarily available. It all depends on the individual situation.
Information on changes and more is available at medicare.gov. Special election period information can be difficult to find, however.
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About the Medicare Experts
David Ireland is a marketing director with The Brokerage Inc. He started in the Medicare business 11 years ago as an agent and as an agent manager with a large carrier. He now supports independent agents and agencies.
LaMonica Thomas is a licensed Medicare specialist. She has been in the Medicare business for nine years and is now a medicare broker which means she represents different Medicare insurance carriers in order to help her clients find the best plan for their needs.