Medicare Open Enrollment Has Now Started

Financial Planning | Healthcare

 Robert Tucker By: Robert Tucker

For Medicare recipients, the period from October 15 through December 7 is a designated time to evaluate coverage and make certain changes if better options are available. Among the changes permitted during this time are:

  • Change of carriers for a Part D prescription drug plan or PDP. (Note that Part D plans are administered by private insurance companies under the supervision of Medicare.)
  • Enroll in or completely drop Part D coverage.
  • Change from traditional Medicare to a Medicare Advantage plan.
  • Change from one Medicare Advantage plan to another.
  • Change from a Medicare Advantage plan to traditional Medicare.

Changes made during open enrollment will take effect on January 1.

There have not been any dramatic changes to the open enrollment process this year, although the Medicare website has been updated for greater clarity and ease of use. But because your list of prescription medicines might have changed and because prescription drug plan providers frequently make changes to their formularies, pricing and preferred pharmacies, it is important for all participants with Part D prescription drug plans to review their options every year. Fortunately, the federal government provides an online tool to help participants decide which plan is best for them.

The tool is available through the website, where you can get basic information about Medicare and search for specific information about plans in your area.

Once you have created an account (not required but recommended), you will then have the option of entering your medications (name, dosage and frequency), specifying your preferred pharmacy or identifying a mail-order option. Medication information can even be populated automatically using prescriptions recently billed through Medicare. Once the information has been entered, a list of prescription drug plans meeting your needs will be generated.
The list can be sorted by the estimated total annual cost of each (including monthly premium, co-pays and deductible) at each of your chosen pharmacies. Comparing the estimated total cost over the year is a good way to evaluate the plans as well as the impact of choosing one pharmacy over another or of using a mail-order option. It is even possible to enroll in the selected plan from the website. And remember, spouses need not enroll in the same plan.
Need more information? Your Wealth Manager is a good place to start if you have Medicare questions. For help in selecting a plan or with initial enrollment, and especially if you are contemplating a change between traditional Medicare and Medicare Advantage, your Wealth Manager can also refer you to a qualified Medicare consultant who can guide you through the process.
Plancorp does not provide medical, tax, legal or accounting advice. This material has been prepared for informational purposes only, and is not intended to provide, and should not be relied on for medical, tax, legal or accounting advice. You should consult your own medical, tax, legal and accounting advisors.

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Robert—or “Dr. Bob,” as he is known around the office—is one of several former Plancorp clients who now work for the firm. A practicing orthopedic surgeon in his past life in which he was deeply involved in the business side of medicine, Dr. Bob draws on his prior experiences to help physicians meet the challenges they face today. More »