If you are on Medicare or will soon be on Medicare, the Open Enrollment period is important to you and your medical coverage. From October 15th through December 7th, you can update or change your Medicare coverage(s). Changes will take place on January 1st.
If you have a Medicare drug plan or Medicare Advantage plan, this is the time to review the coverage(s). you have. Each of these plans will likely have changes that can affect your benefits in 2024. In addition, the premium can change as well.
So, what should I do? You must review the plans you have. You should have received a mailing by now from the plan(s) you have. Review the information you received. This is vital if your plan covers your drugs. Every year, there are many changes in drug plans. These include what drugs are covered and the co-pays that are required for the drugs.
The most significant single change that affects a drug plan is that when you reach the “catastrophic level,” the co-pay is dropped. That means that once you have spent $3,300 in co-pays, there will be no charge for your medications at the pharmacy. For those with expensive drugs, this can be a big saving. Remember, co-pays are in addition to the premium for your plan. Also, this change does not affect any medications you receive through your Part B Medicare benefits. Another change affecting drug plans is a limit to how much a plan can raise the premium for your drug plan.
Medicare Advantage plans are also changing, although they must follow drug plan guidelines. Advantage plans can change benefits and co-pays for medical services and the added benefits in the plan. They can also change which medical services must have preauthorization before you can get that service. Be aware that your medical provider(s) can decide to no longer accept your plan.
During Open Enrollment, it is vital that you review your plan(s) to determine if they will meet your needs in 2024.
This is a big task, and many people find insurance confusing. You can get help by contacting SHIBA at Island Senior Resources (ISR). They have both face-to-face and telephone appointments available to assist you. SHIBA volunteers are overseen and trained by the Office of the Insurance Commissioner and are a free service for you. Call 360-321-1600 for an appointment. (SHIBA stands for Statewide Health Insurance Benefits Advisors).
NOTE: If you have a supplemental/Medigap plan in addition to your Medicare plans, you can change this plan at any time during the year, and it will be effective the first of the following month. You are still strongly encouraged to review your drug plan that goes with this plan.