Navigating Medicare Open Enrollment for 2024
By Thomas McKay, CLU®
With so many plans and options, Medicare can be confusing. To make matters more stressful, choosing the wrong options could mean overpaying for medical care by hundreds or thousands of dollars. Since one of my goals is to help you keep more of the money you’ve earned, I think it’s important to dive into Medicare tips when navigating 2024 Open Enrollment.
Why it Matters
If you (or a loved one) are already enrolled in Medicare, these weeks are important. Since enrolling initially, maybe your medical situation has changed. Or perhaps you would like to look for ways to get better coverage while spending less.
Overall, now is your chance to take a fresh look at your coverage and make changes for 2024.
What is Open Enrollment?
This is an annual window, taking place this year from October 15 to December 7. You have until December 7 to finalize your choices, so time is of the essence. All changes are effective as of January 1.
In this window, you’re able to:
- Drop or switch to another Medicare Advantage Plan
- Drop, add, or switch your Medicare drug plan if you’re in Original Medicare
- Switch from Original Medicare to a Medicare Advantage Plan
Assessing Your 2024 Needs
Begin by examining your health care requirements for the upcoming year. Create a list of any surgeries, ongoing medications, or specialists you’ll require. Confirm that these needs are covered under the Medicare plans you’re considering.
Researching and Weighing Plans
Original Medicare has different segments: Part A (Hospital Insurance), Part B (Medical Insurance), and Part D (Prescription Drug Coverage). Meanwhile, Part C is Medicare Advantage. There are generally two paths to choose from: A combination of Parts A, B, and D or Part C.
A few things to keep in mind:
- If you’re considering switching from Original Medicare to a Medicare Advantage (MA) Plan, verify your health care providers are in-network and be aware that MA plans more often require specialist referrals and prior authorization for certain tests and services.
- If you’re thinking about switching back from a Medicare Advantage (MA) Plan to Original Medicare, keep in mind that it may be challenging to find an affordable supplemental (Medigap) plan to help with out-of-pocket costs under Original Medicare.
- If you’d like to compare different Medicare Advantage plans, now is the time to see if there’s a better-suited, more cost-effective plan available in your area.
It’s important to think through other benefits too. Many plans offer extra perks like wellness programs, telehealth services, or 24/7 customer support. While not primary selling points, these benefits could tip the scales in favor of one plan or the other.
To get started and explore options, visit https://www.medicare.gov/.
Evaluating Plan Costs
While low premiums may seem attractive, they could mean higher costs down the line. Consider the entire cost structure, including copays, deductibles, and any potential out-of-network charges, especially if you like to travel.
Also, Medicare costs are generally based on your income from two years ago, based on six income brackets. If your income has changed recently, you may file appeals to reduce the premiums.
Open Enrollment can be challenging. Connecting with health care consultants or Medicare navigators can be incredibly helpful in making informed decisions. Oftentimes, this is their full-time job and they’re experts in helping you get the best plan for your situation.
In addition, Medicare offers a free 24/7 hotline to address your open enrollment questions at 800-633-4227.
Overall, taking Open Enrollment step by step and leveraging the available resources can make the process smooth and stress-free.
At Davie Kaplan, we understand Medicare is just one piece of your overall financial picture. Contact our team to learn more about how we can help with your long-term goals.