Today is the last day of Fall Open Enrollment, the time when people with Medicare can make unrestricted changes to their coverage options for 2024. This opportunity—to compare one’s current coverage to the options available for 2024—allows beneficiaries to ensure that their plan will meet their needs.
Those who have not yet evaluated their options can do so by checking a few key factors. Using Medicare.gov’s Plan Finder tool, select “compare drug and health plans” on the homepage. Enrollees who sign in can see what the 2024 costs and coverage will be in their current plan and can compare it to other available products. The tool will have a pre-populated list of prescriptions that have been filled in the last year and will, by default, list the current plan first and then other choices in order of lowest expected cost (premiums and expected out-of-pocket expenses combined).
For those comparing only stand-alone prescription drug plans, it is important to ensure that one’s medications are on the formulary, to check the cost-sharing for each medication and to click through to learn about any rules that might impact the medications—like a prior authorization or step therapy requirement. For people choosing Medicare Advantage, it is important to note that the Plan Finder tool does not include information about the plan’s network of doctors and other providers—you will need to visit the plan website to confirm that your providers are included. People can enroll online using the tool, or by contacting the plan directly, or by calling 1.800.Medicare.
Fall Open Enrollment is not the only time one can make changes to Medicare Advantage and Part D coverage, Special Enrollment Periods allow for changes in the event of certain life and circumstance changes, like changes to other coverage and geographic moves. For people enrolled in a Medicare Advantage Plan, the annual Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment Period, from January 1 to March 31, allows people to switch to a different Medicare Advantage Plan or to return to Original Medicare and elect a stand-alone Part D plan.
The process to confirm that one’s enrollment is the best fit for one’s health status and budget can be overwhelming and it is not uncommon for people to put it off or avoid it entirely. Medicare Rights urges CMS and Congress to make it easier by ensuring a higher baseline quality for all plans, by improving the Plan Finder and other tools, and by adequately funding the State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIPs), which provides free, impartial decision-making support and counseling.
Read the Medicare Rights Center’s consumer-friendly guide to Fall Open Enrollment. It includes a list of upcoming changes, expert advice, and related issues of interest to people with Medicare. It is available for download here, and on Medicare Interactive, our free and independent Medicare reference tool.
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