For some people, October symbolizes the start of autumn.  But for anyone eligible for Medicare, the arrival of October means something much more important – the start of Medicare Open Enrollment season.

While others are perusing the beautiful fall leaves, you have a much more important task; you need to peruse the array of options available to you for Medicare Advantage, Medicare Part D prescription drug coverage and any other Medicare supplement plans you currently have (or might now need). Below are six reasons why every Medicare beneficiary should review their current Medicare plan choices during the annual open enrollment period.

  1. If your health has changed over the last year, your Medicare plan may need to change. If you developed a health condition in the previous 12 months, are taking new or different prescriptions, or now need ongoing visits to a specialist you should find out if the plan you have, or decide to purchase, will give you the coverage you need.
  2. Physicians may retire or relocate, and medical facilities may change their terms for Medicare beneficiaries. If having a specific doctor or medical center is important to you, you should make sure that provider is in your plan’s network.
  3. Medicare plans can alter the drugs, procedures and conditions they cover from year to year. For example, your Medicare Part D plan may no longer cover the prescription drugs you need, or it may put restrictions on how and where you purchase them.
  4. Premiums, co-pays or deductibles may change. Price changes occur year to year, so review the prices you have been paying and what you can expect to pay in the coming year. There may be alternative plans with lower costs available in your area.
  5. Your current plan may no longer be available. In these instances, you must select a new plan, or you may default to another plan chosen by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. Each fall, Medicare participants receive their Annual Notice of Change (ANOC) and Evidence of Coverage (EOC) from their current Medicare Advantage and Part D providers. It’s important you read this information so that you have a chance to review all of the options and select the coverage that is best for you.
  6. There are no shortcuts when selecting your Medicare coverage. Many people feel overwhelmed by the choices in Medicare plans, so they just select Original Medicare and then pick a PDP and supplemental plans that their friends or family have told them are good. Each person’s health situation is different, so something that works for a friend or relative may end up costing you more because the coverage doesn’t fit your needs.

Medicare annual open enrollment runs from Oct. 15 through Dec. 7, and your new coverage starts on Jan. 1, 2017. Reviewing your Medicare plan options now will help ensure you have the right coverage when you need it.

For a personal no-cost, no-obligation evaluation of your Medicare options, call HealthMarkets Insurance Agency at (800) 488-7621. And then, after you’ve done your homework and made the selections that best fit your needs, take some time to get outside and enjoy some beautiful fall weather!

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