When Ruth and I met for lunch to “solve all the world’s problems” as we do every month, we talked about the Medicare Annual Election Period (AEP). Ruth said she is exhausted with mail, telemarketer phone calls and commercials. What to do and when? Keep or change your current plan? Who can you talk with to get help?
Her first question is easy – what to do and when. During this Annual Election Period from October 15 through December 7, you can review and change your Medicare prescription plan or Medicare Advantage plan. You cannot be turned down. It is a pretty easy process once you know which plan you want – that can be the challenging part.
Keep or change your current plan? Every January 1 plans change. What can change for prescription plans? The premium, the prescriptions they cover, the copays (what you pay when you get a prescription filled), the deductible, and what prescriptions the deductible is applied to. Pharmacies may change from standard to preferred or preferred to standard. (Whether a pharmacy is standard or preferred affects how much you pay for a prescription.)
How can you compare your current plan to the other 22 prescription plans offered in 2023? Contact a certified, experienced, professional agent who can make an unbiased comparison for you. There is no additional cost to work with an agent. Many agents can compare all 23 prescription plans for you based on your prescriptions and the pharmacy you use (and providers, if you have a Medicare Advantage plan).
Change or keep your current plan? Even if your prescriptions have not changed, your plan will change January 1, 2023. Review is the key. Just because you “review” your plan does not mean you must change plans. If your current plan still has the lowest projected cost for you in 2023 based on your specific needs, keep it. If there is a plan with lower projected costs in 2023, consider changing plans.
Ruth had an article that suggested looking from the perspective of the three (3) P’s – prescriptions, priority, and providers. What is your cost (copays) for your prescriptions? What is your priority; what is most important to you? A low monthly premium? Low copays? Lowest out of pocket cost for the entire year? If you have a Medicare Supplement plan, any provider who accepts Medicare must accept your plan. If you have a Medicare Advantage plan, are your providers in the plan’s network in 2023?
Who can you talk with to get help? You can call your current plan provider, but they can only talk with you about plans their company offers; they are not aware of other plans. Contact a certified, experienced, professional agent who can compare numerous plans for you. Contacting an agent is more personal and confidential than calling an 800 number or talking with a telemarketer. That agent should also be there for you during the year.
Want to talk? Call 501-868-6650 and say “Caroline, can we talk?”
Caroline Beauchamp specializes in personalized life and health insurance solutions.