UNITED STATES—Dear Toni: I turned 65 in February and did not enroll in a Medicare Prescription Drug plan. I’ve been told that I must wait until October for Medicare’s Annual Enrollment time. I need help now because I have been diagnosed with Parkinson’s and my brand name prescription is very expensive. I thought I could enroll at any time of the year. What can I do? James…Tampa.
Hello James: Medicare’s Annual Enrollment involves only enrolling in a standalone Part D Medicare Prescription Drug plan or a Part C Medicare Advantage plan with or without Medicare Prescription Drug plans. *Medicare Annual Enrollment does not involve changing or enrolling in a Medicare Supplement.* Medicare Annual Enrollment Period is only for enrolling in or changing a Medicare Part C Medicare Advantage Plan and Part D Medicare Prescription Drug Plan.
This year’s Medicare Annual Enrollment starts on Friday, October 15, and it will end at midnight on Tuesday, December 7 (Pearl Harbor Day). All plans will have January 1 as their start date.
This is the time when you can make changes to your Medicare Part D Prescription Drug plan or Medicare Part C Advantage plan, or you could enroll if you missed your enrollment time when you were first eligible like you did, James, when you turned 65.
Below are the changes that a Medicare beneficiary can make during AEP (annual enrollment period):
- Enroll in a Medicare Part D Prescription Drug Plan.
- Change from one Part D Medicare Prescription Drug Plan to a new Part D Medicare Prescription Drug Plan.
- Enroll in a Part C Medicare Advantage Plan with Prescription Drugs
- Change from one Part C Medicare Advantage Plan with or without Prescription Drug plan to a new Part C Medicare Advantage Plan.
- Return to Original Medicare and purchase a Medicare Supplement and enroll in a standalone Part D Medicare Prescription Drug Plan.
- Return to Original Medicare only and enroll in a Part D Medicare Prescription Drug Plan
- Or Return to Original Medicare with no Part D plan. *Don’t forget there is a penalty for not enrolling in a Part D Medicare Prescription Drug plan when first eligible.*
For those who already have either a Part C Medicare Advantage plan with or without prescription drugs or a standalone Part D Medicare Prescription Drug plan, Medicare’s Annual Enrollment is the time to make sure your drug plan or Medicare Advantage plan still meets your needs, especially if you had any changes to your health.
Visit www.medicare.gov after Wednesday, October 1 to view 2022 Medicare Part D and Medicare Advantage plans with enrollment starting Friday, October 15. The website has a tool for helping you narrow your search for new Medicare Advantage and Prescription Drug plans.
It is wise to verify every year that your prescription drugs are covered on your Part D Medicare Prescription Drug plan. Medicare Advantage or Prescriptions Drug plans can change their prescription drug formulary each year and if your prescriptions are not covered for the next year, you may have to pay 100 percent of that prescription out of your pocket if it is not covered on your Part D plan.
For information about specific Medicare questions, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 832-519-8664 to have your Medicare questions answered.
Toni King, Medicare author/advocate is giving a $5 discount to the Toni Says® readers on the new 2021Medicare Survival Guide® Advanced book at www.tonisays.com.