The annual election period for Medicare (AEP) began on Saturday, Oct. 15 and will continue until Wednesday, Dec. 7. This is a time where people can make changes to their Medicare plan depending on what type of coverage they have now and these changes will go into effect on Jan. 1. Every year, Medicare also changes their plan and benefits so it’s a good time for people to look at their new plan and see if they need to make changes.
One of the changes that has happened during AEP is that nearly 50% of Medicare beneficiaries are now enrolled in a Medicare Advantage plan. Jae Oh, author of Maximize Your Medicare, says that this is because people realize that Medicare Advantage is more convenient for them. “In most instances, it combines both your health benefits along with prescription drug benefits and fits many people at the price point where the premium can be $0,” he said. “Basically, this has turned out to be a large savings to those people, especially those who do not use healthcare services very frequently or are not a very heavy user of prescription medications.”
Oh also mentions that people should be aware of the out of pocket cost maximum limit that comes with every Medicare Advantage plan for Medigap people. The federal card part A and part B do not include an out-of-pocket limit but in most instances, the out-of-pocket costs are limited to the Part B deductible only.
Although many people have switched to Medicare Advantage plans, the decision to switch is very complicated, according to Oh. “[For] Medigap…the parts do not move you, no one can eject you. The only person that can cancel is you,” Oh says. “Medicare Advantage has a lower cost on a monthly basis, but.. if you do require healthcare services, you can expect itemized bills. Sometimes, depending on your situation, the itemized bills in a given year can exceed Medigap premium.”
Another tool that can help is medicare.gov's Medicare Plan Finder. In most instances, however, insulin is actually not correctly calculated and displayed on medicare.gov, according to Oh, which means people need to do more research somewhere else. Oh has a newsletter on Substack at jaeoh.substack.com. This newsletter brings updates about financial topics as well as tips for both financial and healthcare planning. There is also a paid version where he provides extra insight that you won’t find anywhere else.