Commentary: Steps to Follow During Open Medicare Enrollment | Business columnists

Greg Chona

At this time of year, current Medicare beneficiaries have the option to change their coverage. The so-called Medicare open enrollment period runs from October 15 to December. 7. If you are enrolled in Medicare, this is your opportunity to make adjustments to your plan, which will take effect on January 1, 2022.

With healthcare being a big cost concern throughout retirement, it can make a difference if you’re able to improve your current coverage. Here are five important steps to take during the open registration season.

1. Evaluate your current coverage

Think about the coverage you have today and if you are happy with it. Pay attention to the premiums your plan will charge for 2022 (which should have been disclosed to you by the end of September). Keep in mind that Medicare Part B and Part D drug plan costs will also increase over the next year. Be aware that you don’t have to be content with your existing plan, but you also want to carefully weigh your options before making any changes.

2. Know what is available to you

If you want to make any changes, make sure you know how much flexibility you have. If you are currently covered by a Medicare Advantage plan and want to consider switching to another Advantage plan, you have the option of doing so. If you want to switch from original Medicare (parts A and B) and supplemental plan (Medigap) to Medicare Advantage, you can do that as well. If you want to drop your Medicare Advantage coverage and enroll in the original Medicare, you may have a gap that will be more difficult to fill. Switching to another Medigap policy to supplement your original Medicare coverage at this point may require a health assessment to determine eligibility and rates. Such a decision would also require a stand-alone Part D drug plan if desired.

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