As October approaches, like clockwork the Medicare commercials begin on TV. As if Medicare isn’t confusing enough already, none of us need the bombardment of hype from insurance marketing organizations, like AARP. Nevertheless, it’s here and will be with us until early December.
One area of confusion for many seniors has to do with the Annual Enrollment Period (AEP), which begins 15 October and ends on 7 December. The insurance companies inundate all of us with their commercials letting us know how important it is to compare rates and choose the best company. It’s all fluff and no substance that’s carefully designed to scare seniors and get them to make a call.
What most people are confused about is what plans AEP covers. The annual open enrollment period has nothing to do with Original Medicare or Medicare supplements. The AEP is only for Part D prescription drug plan coverage or Medicare Advantage plan coverage.
Medicare Advantage and Medicare Part D are private health insurance plans that require a 1-year commitment. So, the decision you make during AEP will decide your Medicare Advantage plan (if you don’t have a Medigap plan) or your Part D plan that you’ll use next year.
If you already have a Medicare supplement policy you won’t have to worry about changing this coverage, because it remains in place until you terminate it. However, if you had a Part D plan for your prescription drug coverage, you should evaluate the rates and coverage to make sure it’s still the best plan for you. It’s critical that you do so because the insurance companies offering drug plans change the monthly premium, deductible, coinsurance, and copay levels. They can also drop critical drugs off their formulary and their pharmacy networks can change.
In summary, the approaching open enrollment period is only for Part D drug plans and Advantage plans, and not for your Medicare supplemental insurance coverage.