Medicare Open Enrollment Period 2023…Get Ready…Get Set…GO!
Let the craziness begin! The Medicare Open Enrollment 2023 period is upon us and everyone is having to suffer. Personally, I think having to watch commercial after commercial on the television about Medicare Advantage plans is about as fun as listening to nails on a chalkboard!! You know the commercials…Joe Namath and JJ Walker talking about ‘getting the benefits you are entitled to’. Of course, these commercials are not all they seem to be. Too learn more about the Medicare Advantage commercials check out our article found here.
So Why Is It Called The Open Enrollment Period?
That is a fantastic question, since the enrollment period from October 15th – December 7th was actually the Annual Election Period. For some reason years back, Medicare started running commercials themselves and kept referring to this period as the Open Enrollment period.
The reality is that the Open Enrollment period for Medicare Advantage plans starts on January 1st of each year and runs until March 31st. Of course, this just adds more confusion to an already confusing time. Well, enough complaining, let’s move on to what you should be doing to make the enrollment periods easier to navigate.
Keep in mind that no matter what the commercials say, or all of the junk mail pieces you get in your mailbox, you do not have to make changes during the Annual Enrollment Period or the Open Enrollment Period. If your Medicare Advantage or stand-alone Part D Prescription plan works great for you, and you did not notice any major changes in your Annual Notice of Change letter, then you can simply stay where you are. If you find that your plan isn’t working for you or there are major changes coming for the following year that will negatively impact you, then a change will likely be needed.
In this post I will explain how these periods of enrollment differ, and how they can be used. Just sit back, relax and know that by the end of this article you will have an idea of exactly what you need to do.
What Can I Do During the Annual Election Period?
As we stated earlier this is also now called the Medicare Open Enrollment Period on most commercials that you see. During the period of October 15th – December 7th you can:
- Stay in your current plan if it works well for you
- Change from one Medicare Advantage plan to another Medicare Advantage plan
- Change from one stand-alone Part D Prescription plan to another stand-alone Part D Prescription plan
- Change from Original Medicare (Parts A & B) to a Medicare Advantage plan (Part C)
- Change from a Medicare Advantage plan to Original Medicare and enroll in a stand-alone Part D Prescription plan.
What Are Some of the Reasons Why I Would Change My Plan?
- Your Annual Notice of Change letter shows that your prescriptions will either not be on next year’s formulary (list of approved medications) or moves to a higher tier which will cost you more in either co-payments or co-insurance. A prescription moving from a Tier 1 to a Tier 2 is not going to be outrageous, but a Tier 2 prescription moving to a Tier 4 will be. You will actually go from making a flat co-payment to paying a percentage of the actual prescription cost.
- The Medicare Advantage plan you have will have a change in the provider network. This means that maybe a hospital you like to use or your favorite doctor has decided to no longer be part of the plan’s network.
- The Medicare Advantage plan is no longer available in your resident county. When this happens, you will either need to choose another Medicare Advantage plan or return to Original Medicare and enroll in a stand-alone Part D Prescription plan.
- The Medicare Advantage plan has a premium increase for next year that makes it unaffordable, and you want to enroll in a less expensive plan.
The key thing to remember is that our advisors here at Senior Benefit Services, Inc can help you navigate thru these rough waters. If you really need to make a change, they will advise you on your best options. If you don’t need to make a change, then they will advise you to remain in your current plan and just ignore all the junk mail, television, and radio commercials.
What Should I Do If I Have a Medicare Supplement plan?
The great news is that the Annual Election Period (Medicare Open Enrollment Period) does not apply to Medicare Supplements. The reason why is that each year your Medicare Supplement core benefits will not change. If you have a plan that covers the Part A deductible, then your plan each year will continue to cover that cost. It doesn’t matter that the Part A deductible goes up every year, because your Medicare Supplement plan will still cover it.
This means that you do not have to make any changes to your Medicare Supplement plan during this period of time.
What If My Medicare Supplement Premium Went Up This Year?
Sorry to say, but Medicare Supplement plans are health insurance policies and due to rising medical costs and claims being paid out, these plans will typically go up each year.
While your premium may go up, your benefits don’t go down.
You are free to shop your Medicare Supplement plan during the Medicare Open Enrollment 2023 Annual Enrollment Period, the same as you are free to shop your plan any other time of the year.
One point that I want to make very clear is that the Annual Election Period (Open Enrollment Period) does NOT provide any special provisions to guarantee you to get another Medicare Supplement.
Wait A Minute…the Medicare Commercials All Say Now Is the Time to Make Changes and I Can’t Be Turned Down!
This is 100% true for Medicare Advantage and stand-alone Part D Prescription plans. Keep in mind that Medicare Advantage plans typically only have 1 health question on their application and that asks whether or not you have End Stage Renal Disease (ESRD). The stand-alone Part D prescription plans have no health questions at all. This is the reason why you can easily change these plans.
Since this enrollment period has never applied to Medicare Supplement plan (since it originated in 2006) you would have to answer the health questions and qualify to get a new Medicare Supplement plan.
To see if you can lower your Medicare Supplement plan premiums, simply click on the button below. It is easy, fast, and there is absolutely no obligation.
What Can I Do During the Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment Period?
This period which runs from January 1st – March 31st allows you to:
- Switch to a different Medicare Advantage plan (if you are already enrolled in a Medicare Advantage plan to begin with).
- Switch from a Medicare Advantage plan to Original Medicare. You will also now need to enroll in a stand-alone Part D Prescription plan so that you do not incur a penalty.
IMPORTANT REMINDER: This is for Original Medicare only and does not pertain to Medicare Supplements.
What Are My Next Steps?
To make this easier, lets break it down into three categories:
Category 1 – You are an existing client of Senior Benefit Services, Inc. The first thing you should do is review your Annual Notice Change Letter to see if there are any plan changes that will negative effect you. The next step would be to also take note if you had any new prescriptions added this year that are in a higher Tier pricing. While your current plan may cover it, another plan may cover the prescription at a lower Tier pricing which saves you more money. If there are notable changes to your coverage or changes in your prescription costs, then you should contact your Senior Benefit Services advisor to schedule a review. Many of our clients simply prefer to have a standing annual review each year for peace of mind.
Category 2 – You are not an existing client of Senior Benefit Services, Inc. but feel that our well-known top shelf service would be of great value, then feel free to call (800)924-4727 and we will have an advisor assigned to you.
Category 3 – You are someone who enjoys doing everything yourself. While this path is filled with lots of confusing information to digest and understand, you can opt to do this. Keep in mind that you will not be saving any money since premiums are set by the plans and approved by CMS, but you can call Medicare directly at 1-800-MEDICARE for help or go to Medicare.gov and use the Plan Finder on their website.
We would enjoy having the opportunity to show you why so many Medicare beneficiaries love working with our company and have been with us for decades. You will always receive straightforward, honest advice that benefits you and not the insurance company. Contact us to make the Medicare Open Enrollment 2023 season relaxing. Remember…We Make Medicare Easy!