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The Medicare enrollment window is quickly narrowing, so how can you minimize Medicare surprises in 2021?

As you may already know, the Medicare Part D (the prescription drug supplement) and Medicare Advantage plans are one-year contracts, which means you must renew your plan each year.  If you do nothing, you are automatically re-enrolled in your current plan, even if there have been significant changes.  Those changes may include prescription drug offerings or premium increases. If you’re not paying attention or if you’ve thrown away your Medicare notice (possibly titled “Important Plan Information”), you may receive unwanted changes to your plan.

Thankfully, there are resources to help ensure the plan you’ve selected is the program you expect.  If you have received a notification regarding changes to your plan, you may want to explore the options you have available.  First, establish an account, and visit Medicare.gov to gather data and chart your course.  Once you identify a plan or policy that makes sense to you, the website will take you to a list of companies that offer that plan.  You will receive specifications on pricing over the phone or through the individual company’s website. Additionally, as you research, you’ll want to consider the cost of any prescription drugs you take and compare plans with those prices in mind.

In the state of Alabama, an additional free resource is the Alabama State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP). By calling 1-877-425-2243, they will connect you with a local counselor that can help explain Medicare benefits, understand your Summary Notice, and/or address any claims questions you may have.  To better prepare you for an appointment with the SHIP Counselor, prepare a list of your current physicians, preferred hospitals, and prescription medications.  These appointment slots can fill up quickly, so calling earlier is best.

Medicare can be overwhelming, so we encourage you to reevaluate your plan every year.  According to a Kaiser Family Foundation study, only 10%-13% of people switch drug plans, and even fewer look at the options available.  By being proactive with your plan selection and using the resources at your fingertips, you can stay ahead of the curve.

While the open enrollment window runs until December 7th, please do not wait until then to confirm you are in the right plan. Of course, if you’re happy with your current plan and it isn’t changing, then simply do nothing, and you will be automatically re-enrolled.

If you find yourself overwhelmed by the Medicare decision-making process, please reach out to your Bridgeworth advisor, who can help connect you with the right resources.

This content does not constitute legal, tax, accounting, financial, or investment advice. You are encouraged to consult with competent legal, tax, accounting, financial, or investment professionals based on your specific circumstances. We do not make any warranties as to the accuracy or completeness of this information, do not endorse any third-party companies, products, or services described here, and take no liability for your use of this information.

Bridgeworth is now a part of Savant Wealth Management as of 11/30/2023. Savant Wealth Management (“Savant”) is an SEC registered investment adviser headquartered in Rockford, Illinois.