It’s time to make up your mind!by Denise Early on Dec. 11, 2009, under Health
I’ve been busy talking with seniors about their Medicare coverage and their options for 2010. There are a number of options and some people just can’t make up their mind!
I’ve moved a number of people from their Medicare Advantage plan back to Medicare and a Supplement (and a stand-alone Part D plan). These folks were concerned with changes that might be coming to Medicare Advantage next year, and they felt more comfortable with a Plan F Medicare Supplement.
Then there are those who just can’t make up their mind about switching to another Medicare Advantage plan. They study the doctor co-pays, the hospital co-pays, the maximum out-of-pocket. And sometimes the gym network is the deciding factor in choosing a plan.
Many people stay with their Advantage plan because not all their doctors are in the other plans’ networks. Many people are curious about the CareMore Advantage plan because of the many mailings they’ve received from that company. The CareMore co-pays are much lower than the other Advantage plans, but the doctor network is very limited. I’ve met some people who are diabetic and would benefit from the special needs plan CareMore has for diabetics – but if their doctors are not in the CareMore network, the person is reluctant to make the change.
For people who just can’t decide, I tell them they still have January, February and March to make a change. While there is a big rush to change by the end of December, people can still change their Medicare Advantage plan during the first three months of 2010. As long as they have an Advantage plan with a drug plan – or if they have Medicare and a stand-alone Part D plan – they can make changes up until the end of March.
Clarification on Part D: If a person has Medicare and a stand-alone Part D plan, they can only switch to another stand-alone Part D plan from November 15-December 31st. Their deadline for changing plans is December 31st. If a person with Medicare and Part D decides in January, February, or March to enroll in Medicare Advantage, they can make this change – because they have a Part D plan.
I have heard that in 2011, the January – March open enrollment period will not be offered by Medicare. So next year at this time, December 31st really will be the deadline. That should be interesting.
This time of year (November -December) is the only time when people who need a Part D drug plan can get one. If they wait until January, they will be refused enrollment. If they want to get into a Medicare Advantage plan in January, February, or March, they can only enroll in an Advantage plan that does not have a Part D. And they must wait until next year at this time to have another chance to get into Part D. So these folks must make a choice by the end of December.