What You Need to Know About the 2021 Medicare Enrollment Period
Autumn is an incredible time of year – we have Thanksgiving, pumpkin-flavored everything, the biggest sales of the year… oh, and the Medicare Enrollment Period (how could we forget?).
During the Annual Enrollment Period (AEP), you can make changes to your Medicare Advantage plan as well as your Medicare Part D drug plan. Here's everything you need to know to save money, get great benefits, and be all set for 2021.
Changes for the 2021 Medicare Enrollment Period
Medicare's online Plan Finder system got a redesign last year, making it much easier to run drug plan comparisons.
Feel free to take a look around, and while you're there, be sure to register for a MyMedicare.gov account. The account allows you to build and modify your drug lists based on medications you've filled throughout the year, and it's a huge help to us when we go to find you the best drug plan.
Also, because of COVID-19, a lot of communications are going to be over the phone this year. We want to keep our clients safe, so we're taking every precaution. If you prefer to come into the office, you're still welcome to do so.
Must-Know Details About AEP
Be prepared for a lot of commercials advertising free dental and vision benefits. You'll probably notice your mailbox filling up with advertisements and mailers as well.
Private Medicare Advantage (MA) plans tend to advertise a lot during AEP, and while their extra dental and vision benefits are nice, it's more important to focus on the main plan benefits. There aren't many MA options in our county, which is why we recommend almost all of our clients opt for a Medicare Supplement.
Remember that your Medicare Supplement is not affected by the Medicare Enrollment Period. Your policy review is based on your policy anniversary date, and we keep an eye on your rates all year long.
What You Can Do During AEP
The Medicare Annual Enrollment Period isn’t a free-for-all for all types of insurance, but you can make a lot of changes – especially changes that’ll save you big money on your insurance and drug costs.
Most of our clients have a Medicare Supplement. However, if you do have a Medicare Advantage plan, you can make some changes during the enrollment period, including:
- Switch from Original Medicare to a Medicare Advantage plan
- Switch from a Medicare Advantage plan back to Original Medicare
- Switch from a Medicare Advantage plan to a different Medicare Advantage plan
- Switch from a Medicare Advantage plan that doesn’t include prescription drug coverage to one that does, and vice versa
In short, you can make any change you want regarding your Medicare Advantage plan. You can drop it, switch it, keep it… whatever makes the most financial sense for you.
Not sure what to do with your Medicare Advantage plan? That’s what we’re here for. Using our contact form, let us know the name of the insurance company and we’ll help you out.
Medicare Part D (Prescription Drug Plan)
This is the only time of year you can make changes to your Medicare drug plan.
From October 15-December 7, you can:
- Enroll in a stand-alone Medicare Part D Prescription Drug Plan
- Switch from one stand-alone Medicare Part D Prescription Drug Plan to another one
- Drop your prescription drug coverage
You might be able to save some money by looking at the 2021 Part D plans. Drug plans change, so please reach out to us for help! We'll make sure your drugs are still covered, we'll see how your premium is changing, and make sure the plan is still the most competitive one for you.
We can run a drug plan comparison based on the medications you take. We’ll help you choose the plan that's best for you for this year. This is a free service!
Make the Most of the 2021 AEP
In order to make the most of the 2021 AEP, your goal is to have great coverage for a great price. We come across a lot of individuals that believe getting the lowest premium is the goal, but it really isn't!
Your goal for the 2021 AEP is to minimize your total out of pocket costs for the year. Premiums are only one part of the equation when it comes to all of your healthcare expenses.
You also have deductibles, coinsurance, and copays. Don’t make the mistake of choosing a plan for its low monthly premium only to find out later that your deductible is very high.
This can often happen with both Medicare Advantage plans and Part D drug plans, so be sure you understand all your costs before making any changes.
If you search for drug plans using the Medicare Plan Finder, you can determine which plan will be the most cost effective for you.
Want to run comparisons for yourself? Use this tutorial to help you sign up for a 2021 Part D drug plan.
You also want to look at the full picture with Medicare Advantage plans. What is the monthly premium, the deductible, the copays, and the coinsurance? You also want to know what the network is like – Medicare Advantage plans often have limited networks, which means you’re only allowed to see certain doctors. That might end up being important to you!
Changing Plans Later On
What happens if you totally miss the 2021 AEP for Medicare?
If you don’t take action from October 15-December 7, your options for changing drug plans is very limited. You’d have to qualify for a special enrollment period, which includes situations like getting kicked off of your employer’s group plan or your Medicare Advantage plan getting terminated.
If you don’t qualify for a special enrollment period, you have to wait until October 15, 2021 to make changes.
For Medicare Advantage, the only change you can make after December 7, 2020 is to drop your plan and switch to Original Medicare. You can do that during the Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment Period (OEP), which is from January 1-March 31 of 2021.
Get Help During AEP
You don’t actually need to know every detail about the enrollment process – that’s what we’re here for. Simply contact us, and our licensed agents will help you save money on your own health plan for next year.
Also, don’t forget to download your Enrollment Period To-Do List. This will help you save money before the 2021 Enrollment Period is over and it’s too late!
Get Your AEP To-Do List
This easy-to-understand list for the Annual Enrollment Period will help you save money, ensure your benefits are the best they can be, check that your doctors are still in network, & more.Get My To-Do List