Medicare open enrollment is ending soon

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FILE – In this Nov. 8, 2018 file photo, the U.S. Medicare Handbook is photographed in Washington. The Senate has confirmed President Joe Biden’s pick to run U.S. health insurance programs, putting in place a key player who’ll carry out his strategy for expanding affordable coverage and reining in prescription drug costs. Obama-era policy adviser Chiquita Brooks-LaSure will be the first Black woman to head the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, or CMS, which also administers children’s health insurance and the Affordable Care Act. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

(Baptist Health) – Open enrollment for Medicare ends Dec. 7. If you haven’t yet, now is the time to think about whether your current coverage is working for you or whether you might want to make changes.

During open enrollment, you can decide to switch from Original Medicare to a Medicare Advantage (MA) plan. If you have an MA plan, you can switch back to Original Medicare. Or you can change to a different MA plan. You also can decide to enroll in a Part D prescription drug plan or switch to a different Part D plan.

Before you begin

It’s helpful to first review the various parts of Medicare:

  • Part A covers hospital and hospice care, as well as some skilled nursing services after you leave the hospital.
  • Part B covers outpatient services, such as visits with your doctor and diagnostic tests.
  • Part D helps pay for prescriptions.
  • Part C is MA, which combines Parts A, B and usually D.

Get the information you need

To compare plans, go to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) plan finder website. Here you can review coverage and prices for Original Medicare and MA plans—the site includes a calculator to keep track of costs—as well as get information about Part D plans.

You’ll want to make sure your doctors are in your plan’s network. You’ll also want to check whether the drugs you take are covered in your MA or Part D plan. Prescription drugs that aren’t covered or aren’t “preferred” medications could end up costing you more. Copays aren’t the same across all plans either, so be sure to review those costs too.

Another way to compare plans is through the star rating system. One star is poor performance; five stars is excellent. According to CMS, almost 70% of MA plans that offer prescription drug coverage will have a rating of four stars or higher in 2022.

If you like your current plan, make sure to carefully review its Annual Notice of Change. Your plan may be changing. But if your current plan isn’t undergoing significant changes and will still work well for you, you don’t have to do anything during this enrollment period.

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