Most Medicare Beneficiaries Don’t Compare Open Enrollment Options

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It’s one of those times when you might not want to follow the herd.

Most Medicare beneficiaries – 71% – don’t explore their coverage options during open enrollment, according to a new study from the Kaiser Family Foundation. Because the specifics of health plans change from year to year, experts say this is a mistake.

“It can be a really nasty surprise for people who think they are happy with their plan, and then in January they have to face the reality that their plan has changed, which impacts their care or personal expenses.” , he added. said Juliette Cubanski, deputy director of the foundation’s health insurance policy program.

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Medicare’s fall open enrollment period begins Friday and ends December 7. Simply put, this annual window allows you to add or change coverage linked to an Advantage plan (Medicare Part C) and / or prescription drugs (Part D).

You can change, add or remove these parts of your coverage, and the changes will take effect on January 1. If you don’t take any action, your 2021 plan will usually continue until 2022.

Fall enrollment affects most beneficiaries in one way or another because of the coverage they choose. For example, of the 63.3 million Medicare registrants, 26.7 million choose to get their Part A (inpatient) and Part B (outpatient) benefits through Advantage plans, which will likely include part D.

The rest stick to the original health insurance (parts A and B) and often combine it with a stand-alone plan of part D. In total, 48.5 million beneficiaries have drug coverage on prescription through an Advantage plan or a stand-alone plan.

Among beneficiaries of Advantage plans, 68% said they made comparisons, according to research by Kaiser, which looked at coverage choices for 2019. This compares to 73% of those of the original Medicare.

Changes to your Advantage Plan could include adjustments to monthly premiums, copayments, deductibles, coinsurance, or maximum disbursement limit. Your drug coverage could also change, as could the doctors, hospitals and other providers who are considered part of the network for your Advantage plan.

If you discover after enrollment in the fall that the Advantage plan you have chosen is not right for you, you can change your coverage between January 1 and March 31. You will be able to switch to another Advantage plan or to original Medicare and a stand-only prescription plan.

However, you will not be able to switch from your stand-alone Part D plan to another during this start-of-year window.

The average monthly premium for Advantage plans will be $ 19 next year, up from $ 21.22 in 2021, according to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. The 2022 average monthly premium for Part D coverage will be $ 33, up from $ 31.47 this year.

Monthly Part B bonuses – along with other cost details – for 2022 have yet to be announced. However, the standard Part B premium is expected to drop from $ 148.50 to $ 158.50 this year, according to the latest report from Medicare administrators.

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