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CMS Releases Medicare Advantage and Part D Cost-Sharing Information for 2021

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Medicare’s annual Fall Open Enrollment Period occurs from October 15 to December 7. During this time, people with Medicare can make unrestricted changes to their coverage, such as switching Part D prescription drug plans or between Original Medicare and Medicare Advantage. Final coverage updates take effect on January 1.

To allow people to preview their options before the Fall Open Enrollment begins, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) recently posted benefit and cost-sharing information for 2021 Medicare Advantage and Part D prescription drug plans on Medicare.gov.

This year, people with Medicare and enrollment counselors will have a lot to wade through, as insurers continue to expand plan offerings. There are also new initiatives taking effect in 2021 that may impact coverage decisions. For example, a new program will offer lower monthly insulin payments for some people with Medicare. It is voluntary for drug plans, so beneficiaries should use the Medicare Plan Finder or contact a drug plan directly to learn if it is participating. At the same time, the COVID-19 pandemic continues to put many people with Medicare at risk. Public health guidelines will likely restrict in-person enrollment counseling, potentially making it more difficult for people to find the best coverage for their unique circumstances—at a time when they need it most.

These decisions and considerations can be daunting. Here is some tried and true Fall Open Enrollment advice from Medicare Rights:

  • If you have Original Medicare and a supplemental plan (often called a Medigap) and are happy with your coverage, you do not need to make a change. 
  • If you have a Medicare Advantage or Part D plan, you should review your coverage options even if you are happy with your current coverage, because plans change their costs and benefits every year. 
  • Read your Annual Notice of Change (ANOC), which you should have received from your plan by September 30. It will list the changes in your plan, such as the premium and copays, and will compare the benefits in 2021 with those in 2020. Your plan may send your ANOC in an email rather than a hard copy in the mail. If you would like a hard copy, call your plan to request one be mailed to you.  
  • Your current plan may not be your best choice for 2021. Shop around to find a plan that best meets your needs and makes the most financial sense to you.
  • Wondering what type of coverage is best for you? Visit Medicare Interactive to learn about the differences between Original Medicare and Medicare Advantage.  
  • If you need help, call your State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP) and/or 1-800-MEDICARE. Medicare Rights will also be helping people navigate their options. You can reach our National Helpline counselors at 800-333-4114.

Visit Medicare.gov to start your plan finder any time between October 15 and December 7.

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