Due to the confusing nature of letters and notifications from insurers about changes to Medicare, often, Medicare Advantage beneficiaries end up not renewing their contracts. Moreover, what happens if a Medicare Advantage plan was not renewed by the insurer and the beneficiary did not understand that?
While this situation can be confusing, the beneficiary does have a special enrollment period available to make changes to their Medicare coverage. Most years, that special enrollment lasts until February 28. If the beneficiary opts to remain in the Original Medicare, they would typically enroll in a Medicare Part D drug plan and a Medigap plan. Most insurers advise Medicare beneficiaries when they discontinue coverage that the insured has a “guaranteed issue right” for Medigap plans.
The beneficiary would also be well advised to consider a Medicare Part D drug plan to handle the cost of prescription drugs. There are numerous Part D options that can be compared by using the Find Health and Drug Plan tool at www.medicare.gov. In the alternative it is always easy to call 1-800-MEDICARE to get assistance in comparing costs and coverage options.
What if the beneficiary wants to choose another Medicare Advantage plan? It is a good idea to figure out precisely how the plan is to be used before making any calls or doing research. Some Medicare Advantage plans have hearing, vision and dental services, services that a beneficiary may not need. Or they may wish to choose a plan that offers all three. Again, beneficiaries have the option of going online to see what kinds of Medicare Advantage plans are available for 2019 and use Find Health and Drug Plan tool at www.medicare.gov.
It is worth noting that Medicare Advantage plans usually have a contracted network of hospitals and physicians and also have out-of-pocket expenses that the beneficiary is responsible to pay. It is worth asking for a summary of benefits for any chosen option in order to compare various alternatives.
Medicare is changing but it is not clear yet how. That leaves beneficiaries struggling to make the best available choices open to them at the time they come up for enrolment or when they first become eligible for Medicare. The one thing to know with certainty is that whatever is purchased now is likely to be portable later and that in buying the best option(s) now is likely to mean cost savings in the long run. Always know that if you are having trouble figuring out what your best Medicare options are, you can always call a knowledgeable insurance agent who can help you make an informed choice.