Joining Medicare is the uncelebrated rite of passage for every American that turns 65. It is the federal health insurance program for senior citizens. And, just like other rites of passage, such as getting a driver’s license or buying your first home, it isn’t a one-time event that you can just forget about as you move on with life.
It is important to reassess your Medicare coverage every year during open enrollment to ensure that all of your needs are met and you are getting the best care for the best price.
Who Does Medicare Open Enrollment Affect?
Medicare open enrollment is for people who are already a part of the Medicare system. Even if you have only signed up for Parts A and B, you can still take advantage of open enrollment.
If you have not yet enrolled in Medicare, then open enrollment does not apply to you. Your initial enrollment period is based upon your birthday, not a set date on a calendar. You need to sign up for coverage during the window of time that starts three months before the month of your 65th birthday and ends at the end of the third month after, for a total of 7 months.
When Is Medicare Open Enrollment?
Open enrollment for existing Medicare participants, though, has nothing to do with your birthday. It is at the same time every year, and everyone currently enrolled can take advantage of it, even if you only began Medicare the month before. This year, open enrollment goes from October 15, 2019, to December 7, 2019. The decisions you make during that period affect your 2020 medical coverage.
In 2019 and the years following, there is a new open enrollment period for Medicare Advantage plans only from January 1 to March 31. (1) This open enrollment is more restrictive than the fall Medicare Open Enrollment. Also, it only applies to Medicare Advantage plans, so any other changes need to be made during the Medicare open enrollment that is fast approaching.
What Is Medicare Open Enrollment For?
Medicare open enrollment is the annual opportunity that all participants get to change their Medicare coverage. Here are some of the changes you can make during open enrollment:
- Enroll in Medicare Part C (Medicare Advantage) for the first time. If you currently have Parts A and B (Original Medicare), you can switch to Part C. Part C is contracted by outside companies and offers the same coverage as Original Medicare but can include even more services.
- Switch back to Original Medicare (Parts A and B) if you currently have Medicare Advantage (Part C).
- Change your current Part C plan to a different Medicare Advantage plan.
- Enroll in or drop Part D prescription drug coverage.
- Change your current Part D plan to a different prescription drug coverage Part D plan.
What Will Open Enrollment Changes Cost?
The costs of Parts C and D vary depending on the plan you choose. If you’re looking at switching from a Part C plan to Original Medicare, then the costs will depend upon your income and how long you worked and paid into the Medicare system.
The standard premium for Medicare Part B is $135.50 for 2019. However, if your income is over $85,000 for a single person or $170,000 for a couple, then your premium will be higher. The range for high-income earners is from $189.60 to $460.50. (2)
Medicare Part A is free if you or your spouse paid into Medicare for at least 10 years, or 40 quarters. If you only have 30-39 quarters, it costs $240. The premium for less than 30 quarters is $437. (3)
What Should I Do During Open Enrollment?
The best Medicare choices for you will depend on your health and financial situation. Original Medicare is affordable and provides basic care. However, it doesn’t cover things like dental and hearing, which can be covered by Part C plans. Also, if you take medications, having the right Part D plan can have a big impact on your finances.
Medicare can be confusing, especially with the variety of Part C and Part D plans available to you. Also, you need to make sure that the plan you choose is compatible with your financial plan and you can afford the premiums without jeopardizing your future. Because of this, it’s helpful to work with an experienced professional when reassessing your Medicare coverage during open enrollment.
At Haydel, Biel & Associates, we understand that Medicare coverage is an important part of your overall retirement plan. As such, we want to make ourselves available to you as you evaluate your options and answer any questions you may have about your insurance coverage or retirement plan. Contact us at (626) 529-8347 or email Ricky directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
About Haydel, Biel & Associates
Haydel, Biel & Associates is an independent financial advisory firm serving individuals and families near Pasadena, California. The firm was founded in 2004 by Chris Haydel and Ricky Biel with a desire to provide unbiased, client-centered, community-based financial advice. Together, they have built a practice that has grown into a family of caring, smart professionals committed to blending proven investment methodologies with creative financial technologies that make it easier than ever to accomplish your goals. They strive to keep things simple and fun to give their clients peace of mind and alleviate financial stress. HBA Wealth takes care of their clients’ needs first and foremost and goes the extra mile to make their clients’ finances grow. To meet and see how the HBA Wealth team may be able to help, contact them today at (626) 529-8347 or email Ricky directly at email@example.com.