The annual ritual of Medicare enrollment is almost upon us: You have until Dec. 7 to change plans for Jan. 1, 2019.
Here’s what you need to know.
What’s new? There are two main changes to look for in 2019. First, the income tiers for Medicare Parts B and D premiums have changed. “The shift in tiers could potentially impact the premiums you pay and change your expenses,” says Matthew Peck, co-founder of SHP Financial in Plymouth, Massachusetts.
The second change is that the new Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment period, formerly known as the Medicare Disenrollment period, has been revamped and is open from Jan. 1 through March 31. This enrollment period allows anyone with a Medicare Advantage plan to switch to a different Medicare Advantage plan or return to the original Medicare Parts A and B.
“If you switch back to Medicare Parts A and B, you will be able to enroll in Medicare Part D at that time. Finally, if you missed open enrollment, this is your chance to select coverage that goes into effect July 2019,” says Peck.
Review your plan. Carriers change their formularies every year. Medications that were inexpensive in 2018 may cost more next year, if they have been moved to a higher drug tier. “Make sure your medication will continue to be covered, and [see] if you can save money on medication by changing plans. You can save hundreds of dollars per year,” says Elizabeth Gavino, a principal at Lewin & Gavino, an insurance brokerage in Hoboken, New Jersey.
Check that your providers are participating in your plan for the new year. Doctors negotiate their contract with carriers each year.