Are you ready for the annual Medicare Open Enrollment period this year? Given the COVID-19 pandemic, it may be more important than ever for beneficiaries to review and choose the Medicare plan that best suits their health care needs. Did you know that Medicare’s annual Open Enrollment Period begins October 15 and ends December 7? 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 is wise to revisit health plans during the open enrollment period annually.

If you are already on Medicare, you should have received an “annual notice of change” from your Medicare plan in September. This letter explains all the changes coming in the new year, including coverage and costs such as premiums, deductibles, and copays. It also tells you when to participate in Medicare Open Enrollment.

Review your medical expenses over the last six months, including a list of the doctors you see regularly and the medications you need. To get an accurate picture of whether your Medicare plan is the best fit for you, you should compare more than just the premiums. 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 on the Medicare website is an online tool from the government to help you select a plan. After you enter your zip code and details about your medications and whether you receive them by mail, you can compare plans available in your area. You can also try the State Health Insurance Assistance Programs, which offer free local counseling to enrollees.

Medicare Open Enrollment 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.  While you cannot change your 2019 income, you can plan for 2022’s premiums.

You can find Medicare plan information or compare plans by calling 1-800-MEDICARE or visiting Medicare. For more information and answers to your questions, our office is here to help. Please feel free to contact us today to schedule a time to meet.