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What is the 2018 Medicare Open Enrollment Period (OEP)?

The first day you can apply for a Medicare Advantage plan is October 15th. Your new plan will become effective January 1st, 2018. This open enrollment period (OEP) allows you to switch your plan each year if you don’t like the changes to your existing coverage or your plan is no longer fulfilling your needs.

Now, the good news is that you do NOT have to change if you are satisfied with your plan. However, you absolutely should be reviewing the upcoming plan changes every year.

How Do I Know if I Need to Make Changes to my Plan?

Your Medicare Advantage or Part D Medicare Insurance plan provider will send you a document in September called the Annual Notice of Change (ANOC). Take 15 minutes to sit down and review this document. It will tell you if the premium is changing, and also if your copays, drug formulary or pharmacy networks are changing.

The Annual Notice of Change lists the plan’s changes side-by-side from 2017 to 2o18. This makes it easy to compare changes to coverage. If you need assistance understanding the changes to your plan you can contact us.

What Changes Can I Make During Medicare Open Enrollment 2018?

• Do nothing and your current Medicare coverage will automatically renew in 2018 • Enroll in, leave, or change your Medicare Part D drug plan • Switch from Traditional Medicare to a Medicare Advantage plan • Switch from a Medicare Advantage plan back to Traditional Medicare • Change from one Medicare Advantage Plan to another • Keep in mind that Part D drug plans have no health questions. You can change to any part D plan as long as you have either Medicare A and/or B and you live in the plan’s service area.

• Medicare Advantage plans have only one health question about End Stage Renal Disease. You must have Medicare Part A & B and live in the plan's service area to enroll.

Good Reasons to Change Your Plan

1. Your plan is dropping one of your important medications next year.

Your Annual Notice of Change letter will specifically list any changes to its drug formulary for next year. The plan must disclose if they are dropping any medications. They must also tell you if a medication is moving to a more expensive tier for next year. If you take a brand name medication now that won’t be covered the next year, you may want to change during the OEP to another drug plan that will.

2. Your Medicare Advantage plan is dropping your doctor from its network.

Unlike Medigap plans, Medicare Advantage plans have a network of doctors. If one of your doctors is leaving the plan’s network, you can use the Medicare OEP to switch to another plan that your doctor still participates in.

3. Your plan has a drastic increase in premium.

Inflation happens to medical insurance plans just like it does to auto insurance plans. If your auto insurance goes up $3/month next year, would you go to the hassle of changing it? Probably not. Likewise, if the only thing changing on your plan is a small increase in premium, you don’t have to switch. But if your plan goes up $20/month, you might look to see if any other plan is cost effective.

The key thing here is if you are happy and nothing significant is changing, don’t feel like you have to shop around just because you hear the word “medicare” every 90 seconds on the radio.

Review the Annual Notice of Change or contact your agent ( for help if you need to make a change.

Your Medicare Part B Premium Might Also Change in 2018 Every year the federal government can adjust your Medicare Part B premium. Part B premiums are tied to the Cost of Living Adjustment in your Social Security benefits. Some people pay more based on their household gross income. Generally, Social Security issues a COLA inflation adjustment that increases your Social Security monthly income benefits, then the Part B premium usually also goes up.

If you need help making a decision or understanding the changes to your current plan, give us a call at 1-800-410-8045 or fill out the form on our contact page.

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