For the last couple years I have received questions about how to get out of a Medicare Advantage or Part D plan after the Open Enrollment Period ended. I’ve also had numerous comments about Medicare supplement policies that seem to have never ending premium increases.
Being certain that you have chosen the right Medicare plan begins with research that utilizes written plan documents and a little common sense about what is likely to happen in the future.
I emphasize, Right Medicare Plan, because there is not a Best Medicare Plan that meets the needs of all people.
This article will address some common mistakes people make when choosing a Medicare plan and how to avoid them.
Common mistakes in choosing a Medicare plan
Before we take a look at the resources required to choose the right Medicare plan I’d like to address some of the common mistakes that lead to the feeling that you have chosen the wrong plan.
Common mistakes include:
- Joining a Medicare Advantage or Part D plan based on premium alone
- Relying on the advice of a friend or family member
- Not knowing how to access all available plans
- Waiting until the last minute, not leaving yourself time to research your options
- Purchasing a plan or policy at the top of your budget
The first mistake of joining a plan based on premium alone is normally the result of not knowing how to research plans. If you do not know how to sort through your available options or how to access plan documents you may need the help of a trusted agent. You can also consult with a representative from your local local Area Council on Aging and know that a recommendation is not limited by companies represented.
Although your friends or family members are well intentioned they often have limited knowledge about all the options and your specific situation. Medicare Advantage and Part D plans can vary from region to region as well as have significantly different benefits from plan to plan.
We all procrastinate but waiting until the last minute to join a Medicare plan can potentially mean a year of dis-satisfaction. Annual Enrollment for Part D and Medicare Advantage begins October 15th and ends December 7th.
The last mistake of purchasing a plan at the top of your budget is more of a danger if you buy a Medicare supplement policy. No matter what your agent tells you, expect premiums to go up. Seeing increases of 10% – 20% is not uncommon. Be sure to leave some wiggle room in your budget.
Medicare plan resources
Here are some general resources when doing plan research:
The official Medicare website will allow you to search for plans in your area and will link to individual plan websites. You can see all available plans in your service area.
Two helpful publications which can be found at the Medicare website include:
Once you have found plans to compare, pay particular attention to these plan documents:
- Summary of Benefits – Outlines all plan benefits.
- Provider Directory – Will include all providers not only doctors.
- Part D Formulary – Includes all covered drugs and their tiers.
Allowing yourself time to study these resources will enable you to choose the right Medicare plan. If you have already enrolled in a plan and are still within the Open Enrollment Period take some time to review your choice. If you feel that you have made a mistake you can submit another application. The prior submitted application will be canceled and the last application submitted will stand.