Medicare Open Enrollment for 2020 effective dates has begun. This window runs from October 15th through December 7th. All changes to your Medicare Advantage and/or Prescription Drug Part D coverage will take effect January 1, 2020.
Should you miss the Annual Election Period (AEP) open enrollment window, it may not be possible to make changes until this time next year. It’s important to review your coverage and make sure your benefits, costs, copays and network availability are still in-line with your needs.
What Are My Options During The Medicare Open Enrollment Window?
There are several changes you can make to your Medicare coverage during the AEP window. You can:
- Switch to a new Part D prescription drug plan
- Enroll in a new Medicare Advantage Plan
- Disenroll from a Medicare Advantage Plan and return to Original Medicare
- Compare and shop for Medicare Supplement Insurance
As you probably know, Medicare is full or rules and timelines. It’s usually a good idea to talk with a knowledgeable agent this time of year. Changing Medicare Advantage plans or enrolling into (or out of) an Advantage plan for the first time can be tricky. You’ll want to make sure you follow the Medicare guidelines so as not to incur penalties and/or delays.
Lowest Priced Part D Prescription Drug Plan For 2020
One of the most common changes this time of year is purchasing a new stand-alone Medicare Part D Drug plan. Medicare drug plans can change dramatically year over year and this year is no exception. You don’t want to assume your premiums, copays and deductibles will be the same. They won’t.
There are some significant changes for 2020 – more so than most years. WellCare has purchased Aetna’s book of business. Aetna has, in-turn, partnered with SilverScript. And Humana has introduced a new Walmart Drug plan. But if you have the old Humana Walmart plan, you will not automatically be mapped into the new one! In fact, you’ll be moved into a different plan with premiums that are twice as high. That change may not work well for a lot of consumers.
This year, more than ever, it’s important to check your options with several major changes happening. You may want to create an account at MyMedicare and plug-in your prescriptions. Or you may want to speak with an experienced agent if you’ve never shopped for a new Part D drug plan before.
There are several new competitively priced Part D plans for 2020. Aetna, Envision, Humana and Wellcare all have plans with inexpensive premiums, robust formularies and low copays on most generic drugs. Your best option may depend on which pharmacy you prefer. Mail order will be a good option with many of these plans as well. Make sure to review your ANOC for (Annual Notice of Changes) and then research all of the new plans for 2020.
There will be other comprehensive low cost plans offered from SilverScript, Anthem BCBS and United Healthcare. But remember you don’t want to shop on premiums alone. Copays are one of the most important factors in determining your best option for 2020. It’s best to shop by lowest overall cost. This method factors in your premiums, copays and the deductible all at once.
Switching Medicare Advantage During Open Enrollment
Medicare Advantage plans can and will change year over year. Many will adjust their premiums, drug coverage costs, health benefits and networks. A plan can have a $0 premium one year and increase the next. It’s wise to review all of your options each year – especially if you experienced higher than expected out of pocket costs during 2019.
We help our clients shop for new Medicare Advantage coverage each year. If you are unhappy with your plan for any reason, then the Open Enrollment window is the best (and sometimes only) time to make changes.
It’s comforting to know that we see more competition and better coverage from Medicare Advantage plans almost every year. In some counties, you might have over 40 plans to choose from. It’s wise to compare them all with an agent to see if one has lower prescription costs and/or better access to the doctors and hospitals you prefer.
Additionally, the government has loosened the reins on many Advantage providers. Many companies are offering new ancillary benefits, like: dental, vision & hearing coverage as well as rider services, wellness visits, gym memberships, free meals during recovery, and much more. While these are not reason alone to buy an Advantage plan, they can put some policies ahead of another.
Leaving Your Medicare Advantage Plan
This change can be a little tricky. There are several factors that will help determine your best course of action. Most people who drop a Medicare Advantage plan will also want to purchase a Medicare supplement and/or a stand-alone Part D Drug plan.
In almost all cases, Medicare supplement carriers will require medical underwriting if you’ve been in an Advantage plan longer than 1 year. This means you can be turned down. Your acceptance depends on how long you’ve had your Medicare Advantage plan, what type of insurance you have previously, and your overall health. You don’t want to assume you’ll be automatically accepted for a Medicare supplement policy.
The good news is you should have no trouble enrolling in a Part D drug plan when making this change. In almost all cases, those can be purchased on a guaranteed acceptance basis with no underwriting. You just need to make your choice by December 7th. After that, the Open Enrollment window is closed until next year.
Our brokerage can help you understand your options when disenrolling from a Medicare Advantage plan and returning to Original Medicare. If you have some health issues, there may be some Medicare supplement providers who will accept you – and others who won’t. We can help find the companies that may make this transition possible.
What About Changing Medicare Supplement Insurance?
Unless you live in certain states like California and Missouri, there is no open enrollment window for Medicare supplement coverage. If you want to change Medigap plans, in most cases you will need to pass medical underwriting. This usually consists of answering yes/no questions on the application and a phone interview with a medical underwriter. You won’t need to see your doctor. At the end, you can be turned down for any number of health concerns.
In other words, you can try to change your Medicare supplement insurance any time you want so long as you are able to pass medical underwriting. A lot of consumers wait until AEP to shop for better rates on these policies, but this change can be done throughout the year. We encourage our clients to call us year round to see if they can qualify for lower rates.
Applying for a new Medicare supplement during Open Enrollment does not guarantee acceptance like it does with Medicare Advantage and Part D plans. It’s best to shop while you are in good health and/or when you get a rate increase during the year.
Our Independent Medicare Focused Insurance Agency
We offer Medicare supplement, Advantage and Part D insurance policies direct from several carriers all across the country. There are no fees whatsoever to use our services. Contact us today to discuss your best Medicare options for 2020.