You Have Limited Time To Make Critical Choices About Your Medicare Coverage
Towards the end of each calendar year, the Medicare open enrollment period allows Colorado seniors who are already enrolled in Medicare to change and update their coverage. While the timing is different, there is a separate open enrollment period for people on Medicare who want to purchase a Medicare supplemental insurance plan (also called “Medigap” coverage).
Knowing when these periods start and end and understanding what you can and cannot do regarding your coverage during these periods is critical to managing your health care after you turn 65. Here is the information you need to make timely choices regarding your Medicare.
What Is The Medicare Open Enrollment Period?
Every year, Medicare health and prescription drug plans modify the coverage they provide, including out-of-pocket costs, services covered, and participants in their provider or pharmacy networks. Since plans change each year, Medicare offers enrollees a chance to change their plans each year and ensures they still have coverage that meets their healthcare needs and budgets.
If you are happy with your coverage and don’t want to make any changes, you will automatically be re-enrolled in your existing plan.
When Is The Medicare Open Enrollment Period For 2024?
For Medicare health and prescription drug plans starting on January 1, 2024, the open enrollment period begins on October 15, 2023, and closes on December 7, 2023.
Things You Can Do During Open Enrollment
During open enrollment, Coloradans already on Medicare can do the following with their coverage:
- Change from Original Medicare (Medicare Parts A and B) to a Medicare Advantage plan.
- Switch back to Original Medicare from a Medicare Advantage plan.
- Switch from one Medicare Advantage plan to a different one.
- Change to a Medicare Advantage plan that includes prescription drug coverage to one that doesn’t, and vice versa.
- Enroll in a Medicare prescription drug plan.
- Change your current Medicare drug plan to a different one.
- Cancel your Medicare prescription drug coverage.
Medicare Open Enrollment Is Only For People Who Already Have Medicare
The Medicare open enrollment period is only for people who already have Medicare. If you have not yet enrolled in Medicare, you can sign up for coverage during your initial or special enrollment period.
Your initial enrollment period is generally the three months before and the three months after your 65th birthday.
A special enrollment period is when you can modify coverage due to specific life-change events, such as moving out of your plan’s coverage area or leaving your current job.
How to Sign Up for Medicare
Carl Chavez, owner of Preferred Insurance, is an independent health insurance broker in Colorado Springs. Carl is an expert in both group health insurance for small businesses and Medicare supplements and Advantage plans. In this video, Carl answers the frequently asked question: “How do I sign up for Medicare?”
The Medicare Annual Enrollment Period begins October 15th and runs through December 7th. This is the time of year that you can review your Medicare plan options including supplements, Medicare Advantage, and Prescription Drug plans. If you are newly eligible or have concerns about your premiums or coverages, this is your chance to review your options and make changes if desired. We are accepting appointments now for Medicare coverage reviews.
Medicare Supplement Insurance Open Enrollment Period
As noted, the open enrollment period for purchasing Medicare supplement insurance/Medigap coverage is distinct from the Medicare open enrollment period. Most Medicare enrollees who do not opt for a Medicare Advantage Plan buy a Medigap plan to cover the significant out-of-pocket costs that Original Medicare itself will not pay for.
The Medigap open enrollment period is a six-month period that starts during the first month you have Medicare Part B coverage so long as you are 65 or older.
During your Medigap open enrollment, you can enroll in any Medigap plan available in Colorado, and insurers cannot deny you coverage due to preexisting health conditions. Signing up for a Medigap plan during open enrollment will also generally get you better prices and more choices.
If you wait until after your open enrollment period ends to purchase Medigap coverage, you may find yourself out of luck. With some exceptions, there the requirement for the private companies that sell supplemental policies to provide sell them to seniors who don’t meet their underwriting requirements does not exist if the individual wants to enroll outside of open enrollment.
Enrolling In Medicare Supplement Plans
As is the case in most states. Colorado has ten standardized types of Medicare supplement plans, identified by a letter, A through N.
Regardless of which private insurer offers the plan, each of these lettered Medicare supplement plans are required to provide the same basic benefits. The only difference between supplement plans of the same letter sold by different insurers is the price of the plan.
Given the many different plans and carriers, the best way to choose between them and enroll in the one right for you is to meet with an experienced Medicare broker.
Medicare Open Enrollment is Almost Here – Are You Ready?
If you are a Colorado Springs resident 65 or over, figuring out Medicare open enrollment, Medicare Advantage and Medigap plans can be confusing. Because there are so many options available, many Colorado Springs residents turn to an independent Medicare insurance broker to help guide them to the Medicare plan that is best for them. Preferred Insurance is the trusted broker that Coloradans can rely on to simplify the process and provide expert guidance.
Please contact Preferred Insurance to schedule a free consultation to discuss your Medicare needs.