Medicare open enrollment is here. With plan premiums at historic lows, now’s the time to review your coverage options
(Family Features) Medicare’s Open Enrollment gives people with Medicare the opportunity to sign up for health or prescription drug plans, or make changes to their existing health plans or prescription drug plans for coverage beginning Jan. 1, 2021. But don’t delay – Open Enrollment ends on Dec. 7.
Why compare plans for next year? Just as your health care needs can change from year to year, so do Medicare plans. While Medicare plans generally cover all Part A and Part B benefits, not all plans offer the same cost sharing or additional benefits. You may be able to find new extra benefits, save money – or both.
What’s new this Open Enrollment?
Medicare plans in 2021 have historically low premiums – dropping an average of 34% over the last three years, and in some states dropping over 50%. There’s never been a better time to go to Medicare.gov and look at your options.
If you’re among the 1 in 3 people with Medicare who has diabetes, here’s some more good news: hundreds of prescription drug plans will be participating in a new insulin savings initiative, through which they’ll offer a month’s supply of a range of insulins for a copayment of $35 or less in 2021. If you take insulin and enroll in one of these plans, you could save an average of $446 per year on your out-of-pocket costs for insulin next year.
Here are some things to consider when shopping for Medicare plans:
- Check if your doctors are still in-network and your prescriptions are on the plan’s formulary.
- The plan with the lowest monthly premium may not always be the best fit for your health needs.
- Look at the plan’s deductible and other out-of-pocket costs that factor into your total costs.
- Some plans offer extra benefits, like vision, hearing or dental coverage, which could help meet your unique health care needs in 2021.
- If you take insulin, you may find a plan offering insulin for $35 or less for a month’s supply.
Medicare is here to Help
Think you’ll need help comparing plans? Here are some things you can do safely from your home:
- Find plans at Medicare.gov, where you can see estimates for all your prescriptions.
- Call us at 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227). TTY users can call 1-877-486-2048. Help is available 24 hours a day, including weekends.
You can also find help in your community. Get personalized health insurance counseling at no cost to you from your State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP). Visit shiptacenter.org, or call 1-800-MEDICARE for your SHIP’s phone number. Many SHIPs also have virtual counseling this year.
Medicare Open Enrollment ends on Dec. 7. Now’s the time to act if you want to enroll in or make changes to your Medicare health or prescription drug plan for coverage beginning January 1, 2021. If your current coverage still meets your needs, then you don’t have to do anything. Remember, if you miss the Dec. 7 deadline, you’ll likely have to wait a full year before you are able to make changes to your Medicare coverage.
Medicare Covers the Flu Shot
This year, it’s more important than ever to get a flu shot, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Many people with Medicare are at greater risk for serious complications from flu. A flu shot is your best protection from getting and spreading the flu, and Medicare covers it at no cost to you if you get it from an in-network provider. Protect yourself and others – visit your doctor, pharmacy or other local provider and get your flu shot today.
Protect Your Medicare Card and Help Fight Fraud
Don’t let your guard down. Here are a few important steps you can take to protect your identity and help fight Medicare fraud.
- Guard your Medicare card and Medicare Number – Treat these just like you would your Social Security card or a credit card. Remember, Medicare will never contact you for your Medicare Number or other personal information unless you’ve given them permission in advance.
- Remember, nothing is ever “free” – As the saying goes, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. If someone calls to offer you a “free” service, equipment, or COVID-19 kits, just hang up.
- Review your Medicare claims – When you get statements from Medicare, look them over to make sure they’re accurate. Look for any services billed to your Medicare Number that you don’t recognize. Ask questions about your statements if you see something you think is incorrect.
Get Help Paying for Prescriptions
People with Medicare can get prescription drug coverage. Some people with limited resources and income may also qualify for what’s called “Extra Help” to help pay for monthly premiums, annual deductibles and prescription co-payments related to a Medicare prescription drug plan.
Medicare estimates that more than 2 million people with Medicare may be eligible for Extra Help but aren’t currently enrolled the program. To qualify for Extra Help in 2020, your annual income must be less than $19,140 a year ($25,860 for married couples). Even if your annual income is higher, you may still qualify. Also, your resources must also be limited to $14,610 ($29,160 for married couples). Resources include bank accounts, stocks and bonds, but not your house, car or life insurance policies.
To see if you qualify for Extra Help, apply online at ssa.gov or call 1-800-772-1213.
For more information, visit Medicare.gov or call 1-800-MEDICARE. If you need help in a language other than English or Spanish, let the customer service representative know the language.
Information provided by the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services.