A Second Chance for Medicare Advantage Coverage in 2020
A growing number of American seniors are enrolling in Medicare Advantage plans. For some who just signed up during the fall enrollment period, their first experience with Medicare Advantage will begin in January 2020.
What if they discover the Medicare Advantage plan they chose doesn’t cover their preferred doctors or prescription drugs? What if they decide Medicare Advantage isn’t the right match for their needs after all?
A special Medicare open enrollment period that runs from January through March is designed to address those scenarios. During this period, people enrolled in a Medicare Advantage plan are allowed to:
- Switch from one Medicare Advantage plan to another – including Medicare Advantage plans that cover prescription drugs
- Drop Medicare Advantage and return to Original Medicare – and sign up for a Medicare Part D prescription drug plan if they wish
Prescription drug coverage may factor into many enrollees’ choice to switch plans. According to a recent survey by eHealth, nearly a third (32%) of Medicare enrollees say that prescription drug coverage is their top concern when buying. eHealth found that when people compare Medicare Advantage plans based on their personal drug regimen they stand to save more than $1,100 per year on average, if they enrolled in the optimal plan.
There are 5 steps Medicare beneficiaries who want to review their coverage options can take to make sure they’re in the right plan for 2020:
1. Make sure your preferred doctors are in network: Many seniors have established relationships with doctors they want to keep seeing. Make sure that your preferred doctors, hospitals and pharmacies are in-network for any new plan you consider.
2. Make sure your prescription drugs are covered at a price you can afford: Avoid landing in a 2020 Medicare plan that doesn’t cover your prescription drugs or requires you to pay more out of pocket than you can afford or need to. Different plans may cover different drugs, and copays and deductibles may vary.
3. Understand what your total out-of-pocket costs will be: Look beyond the monthly premium price tag of any Medicare insurance plan you consider. Low premiums are great but different plans can differ considerably in the out-of-pocket expenses you’ll face when you receive medical care or pick up drugs at the pharmacy.
4. Look beyond Medicare.gov for online tools that might help: Medicare.gov offers an important tool for comparing all the Medicare plans available in your area. But it doesn’t allow people to sort plans based on their preferred doctors, and has recently been reported to provide incorrect cost estimates on prescription drugs. Luckily, other options are available. People shopping for Medicare plans at eHealth.com, for example, can sort by a doctor’s name and enter their prescription drug regimen to see which plans will cover them at the lowest out-of-pocket cost. The tool is free and can be used without first having to set up an account or having purchase a plan through eHealth.
5. Get personal help and advice from a licensed agent when you need it: It’s possible these days to do most of your Medicare research and shopping online without talking to anyone. That’s great for some, but there’s no substitute for the personal touch. A licensed Medicare agent can answer your questions and offer insights specific to your situation, at no additional cost to you.