Senior Savings: How Exploring Medicare Options Cuts Costs During Open Enrollment

Stethoscope with medicare form with parts list.
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How well does your Medicare plan cover the services that you need? Medicare open enrollment begins Oct. 15 and continues through Dec. 7; however, 71% of beneficiaries don’t explore their coverage options during this time, according to a new Kaiser Family Foundation study and as reported by CNBC. Medicare benefit details can change, so not taking the time to review your options could be a costly mistake.

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“It can be a really unpleasant surprise for people who think they’re happy with their plan and then in January they have to confront the reality that their plan changed, which has an impact on their care or out-of-pocket costs,” Juliette Cubanski, deputy director for the foundation’s program on Medicare policy, explains to CNBC.

Open enrollment is the time when beneficiaries can add or change coverage related to an Advantage Plan, or Medicare Part C, and/or prescription drugs, or Part D. Any changes go into effect Jan. 1. If you find your plan isn’t a good fit, you can change your coverage between Jan. 1 and March 31.

“It’s a question of what people need to think about; about what’s most important to them,” says Tricia Neuman, senior vice president and director of Medicare policy at the nonpartisan Kaiser Family Foundation, reports AARP. She also explains that not taking the time to make sure your prescription drugs are covered at the best price could mean a difference of hundreds or even thousands of dollars.

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For 2022, AARP reported that the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services has expanded the availability of telehealth benefits as well as extra services through Advantage plans, such as meals at home, transportation to health appointments, nutrition counseling or safety improvements to your home. However, not all plans offer these benefits.

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CNBC also noted that average monthly premiums for Medicare Advantage plans are expected to drop to $19 from $21.22 while Part D prescription drug premiums are expected to increase to $33 per month from $31.47. Part B monthly premiums for 2022 haven’t been announced, but are anticipated to increase to $158.50 from $148.50, according to a Medicare trustees report.

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