open enrollment

The Open Enrollment Period for Medicare health and prescription drug plans begins Oct.15 and ends Dec. 7.

Medicare health and drug plan costs and covered benefits can change from year to year, so those with Medicare should review their coverage and decide on the options that best fit their health needs, according to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services

They can also visit Medicare.gov at https://www.medicare.gov or call 1-800-MEDICARE.

People with Medicare who do not want to change their coverage don’t need to re-enroll.

During the open enrollment period you can:

Switch from one Medicare Advantage plan to another.

Sign up for a Medicare Advantage plan if you don’t have one.

Drop a Medicare Advantage plan and return to Original Medicare.

Switch from one stand-alone Medicare Part D prescription drug plan to another.

Sign up for a stand-alone Medicare Part D prescription drug plan if you don’t have one.

Drop a standalone Medicare Part D prescription drug plan.

You may be able to make other coverage changes during the Annual Enrollment Period.

After the close of the enrollment period, most people will only have a limited opportunity to change their Medicare Part D or Medicare Advantage plan coverage until the next AEP or Open Enrollment Period.

If you are enrolled in a Medicare Advantage plan, you will be granted a second opportunity to “drop” your Medicare Advantage plan during the annual Medicare Advantage plan Disenrollment Period ( or MADP) from Jan. 1-Feb. 14. The changes will become effective the first day of the month after disenrollment.

For the first time in a decade, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) recently launched a modernized and redesigned Medicare Plan Finder.

The Plan Finder, the most used tool on Medicare.gov, allows users to shop and compare Medicare Advantage and Part D plans. There are more than 60 million people with Medicare coverage.

The Centers said the updated Plan Finder also provides users and their caregivers with a “personalized experience through a mobile friendly and easy-to-read design that will help them learn about different options and select coverage that best meets their health needs.”

The new Plan Finder takes users through the Medicare Advantage and Part D enrollment process from start to finish and allows people to view and compare many of the supplemental benefits that Medicare Advantage plans offer.

The online tools do not replace Medicare’s traditional customer service options, the Centers said. People with Medicare will continue to have access to paper copies of the Medicare & You handbook and be able get help over the phone using 1-800-MEDICARE.

The redesigned Medicare Plan Finder will make it easier for beneficiaries to see these changes and to:

Compare pricing between Original Medicare, Medicare prescription drug plans, Medicare Advantage plans, and Medicare Supplement Insurance (Medigap) policies;

Compare coverage options on their smartphones and tablets;

Compare up to three drug plans or three Medicare Advantage plans side-by-side;

Get plan costs and benefits, including which Medicare Advantage plans offer extra benefits;

Build a personal drug list and find Medicare Part D prescription drug coverage that best meets their needs.

The new Plan Finder has been in use recently at the 1-800-MEDICARE call centers.

In 2018, approximately 25 percent of Medicare beneficiaries accessed Medicare Plan Finder on mobile devices, an increase of 40 percent from 2017.

In addition to upgrading Medicare Plan Finder, CMS has redesigned the Medicare.gov homepage and refreshed the personalized MyMedicare.gov portal to create a more seamless, easy to navigate, personalized online experience for people with Medicare.

Approximately 10,000 people join Medicare each day.

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