If you’re already on Medicare, you may be under the mistaken impression that you’re done managing all the aspects of your health care. On the contrary, once you’ve enrolled in Medicare and have begun receiving benefits, you’ll want to keep a close watch on your health and health-related spending by preparing for the Medicare Annual Enrollment Period. This ensures that you’re not paying too much for services you don’t need.

What is Medicare Annual Enrollment

Did you know that once each year, the federal government allows Medicare users to reevaluate part of their coverage? It’s true, and it’s an opportunity that you should take full advantage of.

While you’re pretty much stuck with your Original Medicare Part A and Part B coverage (which assists you with inpatient and outpatient costs, respectively), you’re not necessarily stuck with your Medicare Advantage or Medicare Part D prescription drug plan.

During Medicare’s Annual Enrollment period, you can compare your Advantage or Part D plan against other plans available on the open market. Another plan might cost less or cover a wider range of prescription drugs.

If you find a Medicare Advantage or a Part D plan that better fits your needs, you can add, switch, or even drop coverage without penalty. When is this Annual Enrollment? It starts every October 15th and concludes every December 7th.

Reassess your health needs

As the Annual Enrollment dates approach, you’ll likely receive a ton of mail and emails informing you that Company XYZ’s health care plan is superior to yours. How do you know if it actually is superior, though? You’ll need to ask yourself some basic questions, starting with your overall health.

Has your health changed since you signed up for Medicare? If you dealt with unexpected health problems and didn’t receive the quality of care you expected, then it might be time to shop around for a better plan. You should also ask yourself about your healthcare financial situation.

For example, did you initially enroll in an expensive Medicare plan as a safety net for unforeseen health issues? If you’ve been healthy, you might consider switching to a lower-cost plan during Annual Enrollment.

Costs can also be an issue if you’re saddled with a bunch of co-payments or high deductibles from your Original Medicare plan. Annual Enrollment is a great time to shop around for more affordable options.

Reassess your coverage

Don’t forget to reassess your healthcare provider network, too. Suppose you traveled a lot and originally chose a Medicare plan that enabled you to access health care services in various locations. In that case, you may want to consider a different option if your travel has since been tapered off.

Naturally, the opposite is true as well. Suppose you lived a relatively local lifestyle when you first signed up for Medicare but now find yourself traveling frequently. In that case, you may wish to switch to a more flexible provider network during Annual Enrollment.

Finally, don’t forget to reassess your prescription drug situation. You may have opted out of Medicare’s Part D prescription drug plan when you first became eligible for Medicare. Since then, has your health changed, so you now rely on expensive prescription medications?

Even if you are already a Part D beneficiary, it’s still worth researching during Annual Enrollment to ensure that your current plan is the best. Part D providers routinely change their formularies (i.e., the list of drugs they cover on a particular plan) as well as costs and availability of services and coverage.

You also may want to look into Medicare Advantage, which offers built-in prescription drug benefits that could save you money over a Part D plan in certain cases. Conversely, you can contact one of our representatives to help you navigate the many choices for Part D and Advantage plans. You can compare plans online or connect with an agent by calling the number above

Find Medicare Plans in your area

As you can see, there are several factors to consider regarding your health care, even if you are already receiving Medicare benefits and satisfied with the coverage to this point. It’s in your best interest to periodically assess your health situation and your health plan to ensure you’re not paying too much or receiving too little. Start your self-assessment a few weeks before Medicare’s Annual Enrollment kickoff for optimum results.

Written By:
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Lindsay Malzone, Lindsay Malzone is the Medicare editor for Medigap.com. She's been contributing to many well-known publications since 2017. Her passion is educating Medicare beneficiaries on all their supplemental Medicare options so they can make an informed decision on their healthcare coverage.
Reviewed By:
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Rodolfo Marrero, Rodolfo Marrero is one of the co-founders at Medigap.com. He has been helping consumers find the right coverage since the site was founded in 2013. Rodolfo is a licensed insurance agent that works hand-in-hand with the team to ensure the accuracy of the content.