Do you feel confident that you can choose the absolute best Medicare Advantage plan for your specific set of circumstances?
Each year during the Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment Period people on Medicare struggle to sort through all the available options to find what they believe will be their best option.
Once you choose a Medicare Advantage plan there is little opportunity to make changes after the annual enrollment period. That’s what makes getting right the first time that much more important.
If you would like a simple road map use this Medicare Advantage enrollment checklist as your guide.
Successful Medicare Advantage enrollment in 5 steps
1. Know what you currently have. You may be surprised to know that many people don’t know what Medicare coverage they currently have. Do you have a Medicare supplement or a Medicare Advantage plan?
If you have a Medicare supplement and are happy with your coverage you do not need to switch nor do you need to re-enroll. As long as you pay your monthly premium your coverage will continue.
If you are currently enrolled in a Medicare Advantage plan you need to be aware that your current plan will end on December 31st. If your plan is renewing for the following year and you do nothing you will be subject to the terms and conditions of the new plan terms.
It’s important to know what you currently have so you can make an informed decision as to whether a better option may exist.
2. Know when to enroll. The Medicare Advantage enrollment period for plans that become effective January 1st has changed. Enroll between October 15th and December 7th to have coverage begin on January 1st.
If your current plan is not renewing you will have until January 31st to choose a new plan. But… if you wait until January to submit an application your new coverage will not become effective until February 1st. So enroll before the end of the year. It’s important to be aware of the enrollment guidelines for Medicare Advantage.
3. Know where to find plans. Too many people don’t thoroughly explore their options because they aren’t aware of everything that’s available. There’s no reason you should just blindly accept the 2012 plan from your current provider.
4. Know how to compare plans. Often times people rely on a low monthly premium as the major determining factor for which Medicare Advantage plan to choose. This is not the best course of action.
If you want to get to the heart of a plan review these three documents:
- Summary of Benefits
- Provider Directory
- Part D Formulary
Only after you have found suitable benefits, a solid provider network and a plan that includes your medications should you consider the monthly premium.
5. Know how you can enroll. With all the different ways you can submit an application there is no reason to miss this year’s Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment Period. Here are the ways you can enroll in a 2014 Medicare Advantage plan:
- Meet face to face with an agent
- Enroll online at a provider’s website
- Enroll in a plan over the phone
- Mail an application
What if you enroll in a plan and then learn about a better alternative? As long as you are still within the enrollment period you can submit multiple applications with the last one received by CMS being the one that becomes effective Janurary1st.
Medicare Advantage enrollment all begins with knowing what you have, when you can enroll, where you can find plans, how to compare plans and ends with the successful submission of an application. Good luck!