2016 Medicare Open Enrollment: October 15 to December 7

Make Needed Changes Now to Medicare Plans 

Now is the time to review and reassess Medicare plans for older adults so that coverage will be adequate and cost-effective for 2016. From October 15 to December 7, 2015, the 2016 Medicare Open Enrollment period is designated for older adults enrolled in Medicare to take these actions:

  • Change their Part D (prescription drug) plan
  • Enroll in a Medicare Advantage plan
  • Change Medigap plans
  • Change Medicare Advantage plans

DailyCaring, an organization that supports families caring for older adults, says that “even though we all wish we could ‘set it and forget it’ with health insurance, Medicare plans change all the time.” To save money, older adult’s plans should be reassessed every year so that necessary changes can be made during the Open Enrollment period.

DailyCaring offers tips for knowing which changes to look for in the paperwork and how they could make a big difference in costs.

How to Find and Evaluate Key Plan Changes

In early October, older adults should have received an annual notice from their health insurance company. The package might be dauntingly thick, but look for the Annual Notice of Change (ANOC), a thinner booklet. The first pages of the ANOC booklet should summarize key plan changes for 2016.

Will the current plan still cover needed services and prescriptions for 2016? You don’t need to take any action or make any changes if:

  • Current plans are still being offered
  • Ongoing medical care and prescription needs for 2016 will be covered
  • New medical care and prescription needs for 2016 will be covered
  • Procedures or tests that may be needed in 2016 will be covered

But if plans are changing and you think switching plans might be a good idea, look into these issues:

  • If the plan premium is increasing 10 percent or more, you might be able to find a better plan.
  • Has the deductible gone up? It used to be zero and now it’s not? Consider switching plans.
  • For prescription drug coverage, figure out changes in drug premiums and tiers, and how these will affect what’s paid out of pocket. This investigation process might take some work, but this is where you can save a lot of money.
  • How much did you spend in co-pays this year? Were some expenses not covered, and might those expenses happen in 2016? If so, consider switching to a Medigap plan with fixed costs.
  • Are you paying for a Medigap plan but your senior doesn’t have many doctor visits (apart from annual checkups and preventive care)? A better option might be Medicare Advantage plans with lower premiums and other benefits like hearing and vision coverage.

For more information on this topic and related topics of interest to caregivers of senior adults, visit the DailyCaring website.