There are less than three weeks left in Medicare's open enrollment period, which wraps up on Dec. 7. If you're about to sign up for Medicare for the first time, open enrollment doesn't apply to you. But if you're a current enrollee, this is your one opportunity to make changes to your health coverage for 2020, and if you pass it up, you may end up spending more money than necessary in the coming year.
Now some seniors may not feel the need to take action during open enrollment. But here are a few good reasons to review your coverage before that period winds down.
1. Your medications are changing
It's important to choose a Part D drug plan that offers good coverage for the medications you take -- and that generally means finding a plan that places your prescriptions into a lower tier. All Part D plans come with a formulary that dictates how medications are grouped, and the higher the tier yours fall into, the more you pay. If you've recently started taking a new drug, or expect to in the coming year, it pays to research your options and find a Part D plan that treats your medication favorably.
Of course, it could be that the plan you're already on does offer decent coverage to accommodate your prescription changes. But it still pays to see if there's a cheaper plan available (meaning, one with a lower premium) that offers similar coverage.
2. Your healthcare needs have changed
Maybe you were just diagnosed with a condition, or need additional help managing a chronic one that's recently been flaring up. If your current Medicare Advantage plan limits you to a network of providers that don't offer the specialized care you need, you may have no choice but to go out of network, and pay the price for doing so. Therefore, assess your healthcare needs, and make sure your Advantage plan offers the coverage required to take care of them in a reasonably convenient fashion. You may find that it makes sense to switch to a different Advantage plan, or even move over to original Medicare, which gives seniors access to a much wider provider network.
3. You're not happy with your current plan
This one should really be a no-brainer: If you're not satisfied with your current coverage under Medicare, exploring your options for better coverage should be high on your list of priorities. However, many seniors assume that all Medicare plans are created equal, and as such, don't bother actively participating in open enrollment.
Rather than resign yourself to a plan that doesn't meet your needs, use Medicare's Plan Finder for help in identifying a better one. Not only will it give you a list of options you can compare by cost, but it'll also include plan ratings so you can see how content enrollees tend to be with their coverage.
Open enrollment offers a valuable opportunity to make your healthcare costs in retirement more affordable. So don't pass it up. At the very least, take some time to see what plans are out there. A little legwork could save you a world of financial stress in the coming year.