Evaluating Your Options During Medicare Open Enrollment


Have you heard that the Medicare Open Enrollment period begins October 15 and ends December 7? This is an annual event. Given the COVID-19 pandemic, it may be more important than ever for beneficiaries to review and choose the plan that best suits their health care needs. Every year, Medicare health and drug plans make changes to costs, coverage, providers, and pharmacies in their networks. Between coverage changes and health condition changes, it can be wise to revisit health plans during the open enrollment period annually.

Medicare can be essential to retirement planning because premiums for some parts of Medicare are based on your modified adjusted gross income (or MAGI) from two years ago. MAGI also adds in capital gains, Social Security, and required minimum distributions from individual retirement accounts and 401(k) plans. Thus, the premiums you will be paying in 2021 are based on your 2019 income tax return.  You may be unable to change your 2019 income, but you can plan for 2022’s premiums.

Some beneficiaries will need supplemental insurance, or Medigap. Medicare pays for much, but not all of the cost of covered health care services and supplies.

Medicare Advantage is a type of Medicare health plan offered by a private company. While many of these have $0 premiums, they often require significant out-of-pocket costs or restrict which doctors are in-network.

If you are already on Medicare, you will have been sent an “annual notice of change” from your Medicare plan in September. You need to review this as a part of Medicare open enrollment. This letter explains all the changes coming in the new year, including coverage and costs such as premiums, deductibles, and copays. Review your medical expenses over the last six months, including a list of the doctors you see regularly and the medications you need. By reviewing your medical care for the last six months, you can account for changes in your health as well as changes in your plan.

The Medicare Plan Finder is an online tool from the government to help you select a plan. You can also try the State Health Insurance Assistance Programs, which offer free local counseling to enrollees, or call 1-800-MEDICARE. 

Do you have more questions about which Medicare coverage options may be best for you? Contact our office today to schedule a meeting.