Sticking with your Medicare plan this open enrollment season? You could pay a hefty price.

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Even Medicare beneficiaries happy with their plans should compare shop this open enrollment season — and review their current coverage.

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Medicare’s Annual Open Enrollment Duration Starts on 15 October and ends on 7 December. This is the time when beneficiaries can change their insurance plan, or at least review other options available.

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But not everyone takes advantage of this time to make the switch. More than seven in 10 Medicare beneficiaries did not compare plans during this period in 2018 Kaiser Family Foundation, a non-profit group focused on health policy. Many times, it’s because making changes — or just reviewing options — can be overwhelming, said Dave Francis, chief executive officer and co-founder of HealthPilot, a company whose services include automated and personalized Medicare plan recommendations. .

“The proliferation of plans has created a large and complex set of decisions,” Francis said. “It is impossible for an expert to manage without the help of sophisticated equipment.”

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Still, avoiding the task can be costly — some Americans could save more than $1,000 in some cases, if they were signed up for the right plan, Francis said.

Medicare Enrollment Doesn’t Have to Be So Complicated

It is not necessary to change plans, but there should be a review of the current coverage. The plans change every year, even for beneficiaries who stick to the same scheme as a year ago. If individuals have signed up for those information, they can get information about these changes in the mail or online, and they usually end up with long documents, said Ann Karish, senior program manager for Medicare at the National Council on Aging. There are.

Changes in coverage may include alternatives to drugs, such as a less expensive drug in lieu of a prescription that the patient has become addicted to, or the doctor is out of network. Copies may also change. “These are the types of things that you need to make sure you’re reviewing every year,” Carish said.

The open enrollment period allows people to make changes to their current coverage, such as switching from Original Medicare to Medicare Advantage or adding Part D, which stands for drug coverage. There is a separate Medicare Advantage plan enrollment period at the beginning of each year for people to make additional changes, although they cannot switch from Original Medicare to Medicare Advantage during that period.

The Biden administration’s Inflation Reduction Act, signed into law earlier this year, included provisions for Medicare — some of which will take effect at the start of the new year. These updates include an insulin cap of $35 per month for patients, as well as making certain vaccine shots, such as one for shingles, free of charge for beneficiaries.

“If you needed a vaccine, like shingles — last year, more than 2 million seniors got that vaccine — most people had to pay $100 for that shot. In some cases, $200 for that shot, Biden said during the September White House Competition Discussion on Inflation Reduction Act. “Are you any wonder how many seniors skipped that shot? For the elderly with the disease, it may be because it’s too expensive.”

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Although the insulin cap will be implemented for all Medicare beneficiaries, not all insurance plans have the same types of insulin products — another reason beneficiaries should review current and alternative options, Carrish said.

Beneficiaries have many resources available to compare their Medicare plans. has one search toolFor example, that would explain the coverage for the 2022 and 2023 plans. BenefitCheckup The National Council on Aging has another program older Americans can use to find plans and benefits. Healthpilot’s platform also analyzes the Medicare plans available to the beneficiary, after asking which prescription or doctor they prefer. Individuals can also consult a broker specializing in Medicare options.

When considering a switch, think about what drugs you’re currently using — or will be using next year — as well as the doctors, pharmacies, hospitals, and other medical facilities you’d love to see. If a medical procedure is expected in the next year, check to see if your current or potential new insurance policy will help.

“Make sure you check your coverage and make sure you’re on a plan that covers everything you need,” Francis said. “If you haven’t checked recently, you may not be covered for what you think.”

This column has been updated to clarify when individuals can make changes to their Medicare Advantage plans.

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