Medicare Open Enrollment – Don’t Put It Off

September 26, 2012 § Leave a comment

Quite possibly the topic people least want to discuss is health insurance, but taxes is probably a close second.  However, it is once again open enrollment season for Medicare and we want to make sure you are prepared.

This year, open enrollment comes a little bit sooner:  from Oct. 15 to Dec. 7.  Though Medicare beneficiaries have eight weeks to select their coverage, most wait until the last minute to apply, which can mean costly errors and added stress.

Here are some tips from to help you pick the best Medicare coverage for your specific needs:

Understand the basics before filling in the gaps.

It’s important to understand what Original Medicare (Parts A and B) cover before weighing other options.  Once you understand the basics, you can compare products designed specifically to fill some of the different gaps in Medicare.  They include: Medicare Part D stand-alone prescription drug plans, which cover the cost of most prescription drugs; Medicare supplement plans, which cover portions of the deductibles, coinsurance and out-of-pocket costs not covered by original Medicare; and Medicare Advantage plans, which bundle together the Part D drug benefit with some additional coverage for deductibles, coinsurance and out-of-pocket costs.  Each type of supplemental coverage has different guidelines for when you can enroll, change and cancel your coverage.
Prescription drug plans can change every year so check the benefits for 2013 If you get coverage through aMedicare Advantage or prescription drug plan, know that most plans change their pricing and benefits each year. You can use an online tool to see whether and how your prescriptions drugs will be covered in 2013.  According to a study by, the average person could have saved $654 in 2012 by changing their coverage to a plan that covered their drugs at the lowest possible cost.

Factor in costs like copays and deductibles.

At first glance, it may appear best to go with the plan with the lowest premium.  However, you are still responsible for out-of-pocket costs.  Also consider such costs as doctor’s office copayments and deductibles.  Those expenses can add up, meaning the plan with the lowest premium could cost you more in the long run.

If you’re turning 65 during the enrollment period, Happy Birthday and know the deadlines.

Hundreds of thousands of people will turn 65 during this year’s annual enrollment period.  If you’re already getting Social Security benefits, you will be contacted a few months before you become eligible for Medicare and given the information you need.  Most people are enrolled in Medicare Parts A and B (Original Medicare) automatically.

While you’re celebrating, keep in mind that other types of coverage have different deadlines that are important to remember:

  • Part D prescription drug plans.  You must enroll during the annual enrollment period.
  • Medicare Advantage.  You have three months to sign up after you enroll in Medicare Part A and Part B benefits.  Otherwise, you’ll have to wait for next year’s annual enrollment period.
  • Medicare Supplement insurance (Medigap).  The Medicare Supplement Open Enrollment Period is six months, beginning the first day of the month in which you are both age 65 (or older) and enrolled in Medicare Part B.  If you miss the Medicare Supplement Open Enrollment Period, your application could be declined if you have a pre-existing medical condition or you may be charged more for coverage.


Of course there are several resources available if you or your loved one needs help navigating the confusing world of Medicare.  If you need help locating a qualified professional, please call our office and we can connect you with the proper service provider

The Law Office of Dawn M. Weekly, PC is located in Sandwich, Illinois and focuses on elder law and Life Care Planning for clients.  The office may be reached by calling 815-570-2334 or “Like” them on Facebook.
Weekly Law Office Logo   Every day of every week, Weekly Law is there for you.


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