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Open Enrollment Period for Medicare and What to Consider

Did you know there was a special enrollment period for senior citizens from January 1 until the end of March? It is supposed to be the same for next year, so mark it on your calendars.

The most important thing to remember about this special three-month period is that it offers beneficiaries a window during which they can switch some of their Medicare arrangements. During this time, it is not a bad idea for seniors to consider their options regarding their Medicare plans. This is even more crucial if you are soon to be turning 65.

Around enrollment time, solicitations for Medicare Advantage come flying into mailboxes with light speed, each offering something special, unique. All the information is intended to inform readers that if they have a Medicare Advantage plan, they can switch to another Medicare Advantage plan or drop a plan, return to the Original Medicare and buy a Part D stand-alone drug benefit. There seems to be quite a bit of flexibility for seniors looking to make changes in their Medicare plans.

A word of caution, along with all the things that seniors can do, beware there is one thing you cannot do, and that is if you happen to have traditional Medicare partnered with a stand-alone drug plan, you cannot switch to a new drug benefit that may save you money on prescriptions. That may only be accomplished during open enrollment in the fall. So, the special enrollment period is actually a second chance for seniors to save on drug costs – one of the most sought after benefits in this age of expensive pharmaceuticals.

Remember though, if you choose to divest yourself of a Medicare Advantage policy and cut over to traditional Medicare, you might find it difficult to buy a Medigap policy to plug the holes. In fact, there are only four states that offer guaranteed issue Medigap insurance, even if beneficiaries have pre-existing conditions – Maine, New York, Massachusetts and Connecticut. This may not be possible in other locations.

The little known trick to getting good drug benefits that actually saves money is to shop ahead of needing a drug plan benefit and find out which one can save the most. If you research that information before you hit the next special enrollment period, you could end up saving upon switching plans. Research and asking a lot of questions are two of the most important things seniors need to do when it is time for special enrollment.