With the Medicare open enrollment window (Oct. 15 – Dec. 7) fast approaching, it’s time for retirees to take an inventory of their benefit options for this upcoming year.
Given the health and financial implications, it’s an important annual task. But it may surprise you to learn that 57% of Medicare beneficiaries don’t review or compare their coverage options each fall, according to a Kaiser Family Foundation study.1
Medicare can be a complicated federal health care program to navigate, but we are here to help make enrollment choices that are right for you.
Here are four reasons all retirees should actively evaluate their Medicare selections on a yearly basis:
1. Medicare benefits are always evolving
Medicare benefits are continuously changing due to the industry landscape, regulatory environment, and other external pressures. Deductibles, prescriptions and premiums are susceptible to price increases and inflation. Likewise, doctor and prescription availability are not fixed.
For example, starting in 2023, Medicare participants will see more comprehensive vaccine coverage as well as the cost of insulin capped at $35 per month. These adjustments are a result of the recently passed Inflation Reduction Act, which will also mandates the roll out of other provisions affecting Medicare participants – such as the ability for the government to negotiate the price of certain prescription drugs – over the next few years.
Bottom line: The terms of Medicare are always evolving, which is one critical reason retirees should regularly appraise their plan each year.
2. Lifestyle changes may warrant a change in coverage
Any lifestyle changes – large or small – might affect the efficacy of your coverage.
Perhaps you’re ready to consider participation in Medicare’s vision and dental plans – or take advantage of the program’s fitness benefit. Maybe you’ve moved to a new state, or plan to travel internationally, where Original Medicare doesn’t provide coverage.
Or maybe you hit a significant birthday: For those 72 and older, your retirement plan Required Minimum Distributions (RMDs) can impact how much you pay for Medicare.
Your lifestyle can change a lot in a year – and your health care selections should reflect your current situation.
3. Health changes may mean more – or less – coverage
Health changes like a new condition or diagnosis may warrant a change in coverage. A recent injury or fall may mean more rounds of doctor’s visits and tests. Or a new food sensitivity may mean more prescriptions or a trip to a specialist.
Whatever your anticipated health needs are for the year, you’ll want to ensure your treatment is covered in your plan.
Reminder: Medicare does not cover nursing home care, so you may also want to evaluate long-term care insurance options. We’ll help you explore your options and provide specific policy recommendations right for your situation.
4. Health care is a considerable expense in retirement
This may seem obvious, but it’s worth stating: The Medicare plan you select will have a big impact on the total annual amount you spend on health care, affecting everything from monthly co-pays to what you’ll pay out of pocket for an unforeseen hospital stay.
If your financial situation has changed, you may want to even reconsider upfront costs vs. caps in costs. Additionally, changes to your income (from retirement account withdrawals, rental income, gains from the sale of a home, capital gains and the like) can affect your cash outlay.
In addition to aligning with your health needs, your Medicare coverage should be in step with your financial goals.
Let’s work through your Medicare options – together
Medicare is a valuable program for many retirees, but it can be complex, which is why it’s worth reviewing annually. Here are a few of the potential changes we can offer insight into:
- Switching from Original Medicare to Medicare Advantage (or vice versa)
- Choosing a different type of Medicare Advantage plan
- Selecting a new Medicare Part D prescription drug plan, or enroll in one for the first time
We’ll help you evaluate your open enrollment choices to ensure your benefits align with your lifestyle, health and financial situation, to help you feel more confident about the future.