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Attention Retirees: You Have Less Than a Month to Make This Big Decision About Medicare

By Christy Bieber - Nov 18, 2021 at 9:11AM

Key Points

  • Medicare provides health insurance coverage for seniors.
  • Each year, there's an open enrollment period.
  • You should act before open enrollment closes on Dec. 7 to make sure you have the right coverage.

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You could regret not acting now if you face costlier medical bills during the year.

Medicare provides health insurance coverage for seniors 65 and older. Having the right coverage is crucial to avoid financial disaster, as medical care is one of the biggest expenses most older people face.

That's why it's so important to take advantage of the opportunity to research your Medicare options during open enrollment each year. 

However, open enrollment is closing Dec. 7, so you have less than a month to ensure you have the best health insurance for your needs. Here's what you should know about the ongoing Medicare enrollment period that will be over in less than 30 days. 

Doctor treating patient.

Image source: Getty Images.

Why you need to take advantage of Medicare open enrollment

Each year, Medicare beneficiaries have the opportunity to make changes to their insurance coverage during open enrollment, which runs from Oct. 15 through to Dec. 7. The changes you make during open enrollment will take effect the following year. 

During open enrollment, you're allowed to alter which Medicare health plan and which prescription drug plan you're signed up for. You can also change from traditional Medicare to a Medicare Advantage plan, otherwise known as Medicare Part C. Medicare Advantage Plans replace traditional Medicare and are operated by private insurance companies. They can sometimes provide more coverage than traditional Medicare does. 

As a retiree, it's crucial to take the opportunity made available once per year to make certain that your Medicare coverage is well-aligned to your medical needs. There are two big reasons what that's so important:

  • Your existing Medicare plan could change. You cannot assume your Medicare coverage will remain exactly the same from year to year, even if you keep your same plan. Premiums, out-of-pocket limits, and the network of providers could all change from one year to the next and affect your continued ability to get affordable coverage from your preferred caregivers. You'll want to look carefully at your current plan to determine if it still offers you the insurance coverage that you're looking for in the upcoming year. 
  • Your needs could change. As you age, you may find that you need more medical services and that your coinsurance and out-of-pocket costs are higher because of it. Or you may discover you need to see different types of doctors than you are currently visiting. A different Medicare plan than the one you currently have could be a better fit for your modified circumstances. 

Open enrollment provides the only chance you have all year to make sure that your insurance coverage is well-aligned with your needs so you don't end up not being covered for the providers you're working with or spending much more out of pocket for services due to an increased need for healthcare. 

With healthcare such a large expense for seniors, having insurance that's matched to your needs is crucial to preserve your nest egg. Take the time left during open enrollment this year to research your options carefully and make certain that the insurance coverage you have in place is right for you. Otherwise, you could spend 2022 and beyond regretting the fact you passed up this chance. 

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