Medicare Annual Open Enrollment 101
Know your options and get free help.
As autumn progresses, it is important to keep your health in mind. Medicare’s fall Annual Election Period (AEP) is the time for you to review your plan options and make changes to your Medicare coverage for the next calendar year.
Things change. Maybe you have a new prescription that is not covered by your current drug plan or you have a new health condition. To ensure you get the most from Medicare in 2021, you should research your health and drug plan options now. In Klamath County, there is a wealth of resources.
The Medicare Annual Election Period ends December 7th and plan changes you make during this time will take effect on January 1, 2021 for the calendar year.
During the AEP you can change your Medicare health or drug coverage in several ways:
- Switch from Original Medicare to a Medicare Advantage Plan, or vice versa
- Change from one Medicare Advantage plan to another
- Join, drop or change your Medicare Prescription Drug Plan coverage
Original Medicare Parts A & B generally only pay for 80% of your covered medical expenses, and there is no upper limit on the 20% you’re expected to pay. For this reason, those on original Medicare A & B coverage usually purchase a secondary insurance policy called a Medicare Supplement plan and pay a premium. Even then, these beneficiaries have to pay yet another premium for a separate stand-alone Prescription Drug Plan. Medicare Advantage plans include all of your original Medicare coverage in one simple plan with limits on your out of pocket expense, prescription drugs included and extra benefits available!
For many seniors, switching from Original Medicare to a Medicare Advantage plan has significant “advantages.” The first most obvious advantage is the potential for savings. This is driven by the availability of low cost or $0 premium plans that even include prescription drug coverage and protection against high annual out of pocket expenses. Second, there are often “extra benefits” not available through original Medicare coverage. Extra benefits may include:
- Routine vision care
- Vision hardware allowance
- Preventive dental care
- Fitness benefits
- Routine hearing exam
- Hearing aid benefits
- Medical transportation
- Routine podiatry
- Alternative care
To find available health or drug plans, you can look in your 2021 Medicare and You handbook or visit Medicare.gov. If you are thinking about a change but unsure where to start, there are several local health insurance agencies who are experts in Medicare and available to you at no cost:
- Mick insurance Agency – (541) 882-6476
- Klamath Insurance Center – (541) 882-5555
- Great Basin Insurance – (541) 882-5507
- Farmers Insurance – (541) 884-5526
- Senior Health Insurance Benefit Assistance (SHIBA) – 541-883-7171
These agents offer free one-on-one assistance year-round to Medicare-eligible beneficiaries, their families, and caregivers. They are trained Medicare educators and can help you understand Medicare benefits and the enrollment process. Assistance is personalized and intended to help you find available options that best meet your unique needs.
Don't wait until the last minute. The time is now and ends on December 7th – take care of your health now and contract one of the agents above or contact Medicare directly at 1-800-633-4227 (TTY 711) or go online at Medicare.gov.