UNITED STATES—Dear Toni: I turned 65 in February and did not enroll in a Medicare Prescription Drug plan. I have 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 expensive. I thought I could enroll at any time of the year. What can I do? James…Las Vegas, NV.
Hello James: Medicare’s Annual Enrollment is for enrolling in or changing a standalone Part D Medicare Prescription Drug plan or a Part C Medicare Advantage plan. *Medicare Annual Enrollment does not involve changing or enrolling in a Medicare Supplement.
This year’s Medicare Annual Enrollment starts on Saturday, October 15, and it will end at midnight Wednesday, 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 can initially enroll if you missed your enrollment time when you were first eligible, as 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 stand-alone 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 stand-alone 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.
Confused about whether a new Medicare plan is right for you? Chapter 6 of the Medicare Survival Guide Advanced edition details various situations during Medicare’s Annual Enrollment Period, such as “still working past 65” or “Doctor not accepting my Medicare Advantage plan.” Now is the time to explore your options.
Visit www.medicare.gov to view 2023 Medicare Part D and Medicare Advantage plans, with enrollment starting Saturday, 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 yourself if it is not covered on your Part D plan.
Have a Medicare concern or question? Please email the Toni Says® office at firstname.lastname@example.org. Listen to Toni’s new Medicare Moments podcasts discussing Medicare issues at www.seniorresource.com/medicare-moments.
Confused about Medicare Zoom Webinar on Wednesday, November 16 at 4-6 p.m. CST. Visit www.Tonisays.com for the Zoom enrollment link.