Have you made your Medicare selections?

Medicare Open Enrollment ends one week from today. Still have questions? Read on.

Q. When is Medicare Open Enrollment Period?

A.  Medicare’s open enrollment period is October 15 – December 7 each year. Many people enrolled in Medicare do not bother to “reshop” their coverage annually but you should. Premiums for prescription-drug plans can jump sharply from year to year along with the level of coverage provided for medications. 

Q.  What is the Medicare Open enrollment period?

A.  Open Enrollment is when current Medicare users can choose to re-evaluate part of their current coverage and compare it against all the other plans on the market. After re-evaluating, if they find something better, they can then switch to, drop or add a Medicare Advantage (Part C) or Part D (prescription drug coverage) plan. 

Q. If I am unhappy with my Medicare Advantage plan can I switch plans?

A. Generally, if you join a Medicare Advantage plan, you can only change plans during the open enrollment period. Between January 1 and February 14 each year, if you are enrolled in a Medicare Advantage plan, you can leave your plan and return to original Medicare. After you leave your plan, you will have until February 14 to enroll in a Part D plan that will begin the first day of the following month that you enroll.

Q. If I change my Medicare plan during open enrollment, when will my new coverage start?

A. If you make a change to your Medicare coverage during Medicare’s open enrollment period your new coverage will begin on January 1. 

Q. If I have a Medigap or supplement policy and cancel it, can I get it back during open enrollment?

A.  When you are first eligible for Medicare, you have a six month Medigap (Medicare supplemental insurance policy) guaranteed issue period, which starts the first month you are 65 and enrolled in Part B. This period gives you a guaranteed right to buy Medigap policy sold in your state. But once this enrollment period ends, if you have a Medigap policy and cancel it, you might not be able to reenroll at a later date.  

Q. What is one of the biggest changes to Medicare for 2016?
A.  Medicare recipients reaching the donut hole will benefit from better prescription drug discounts. The gap in prescription drug coverage (the donut hole) starts when someone reaches the initial coverage limit ($2,960 in 2015), and ends when they have spent $4,700. (In 2015, both of these thresholds will likely change slightly for 2016.) For 2016, while in the donut hole, enrollees will pay 45 percent of the cost of brand name drugs (unchanged from 2015) and 58 percent of the cost of generic drugs (down from 65 percent in 2015).

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