Open enrollment for Medicare begins this week and runs through December 7, and it's a key opportunity for current enrollees to change their coverage for the better. If you're currently enrolled in original Medicare -- Parts A, B, and D -- then you may thinking about moving over to a Medicare Advantage plan instead. Here's why that could really pay off.
1. You may get more comprehensive coverage
Many seniors are shocked to learn that original Medicare won't pay for a number of essential health services, like dental care, vision exams, and hearing aids, that seniors commonly need all the time. But Medicare Advantage generally will pick up the tab for those services. Not only that, but some Advantage plans offer added lifestyle benefits like transportation to medical appointment, daily living assistance at home, and even meal delivery services. You may also be entitled to certain fitness or wellness benefits as part of your Advantage plan.
2. Your coverage may be cheaper
Unlike Medicare Part B, which charges a universal monthly premium, there's no single cost associated with Medicare Advantage. Rather, your costs will depend on the specific plan you choose. When you sign up for Medicare Advantage, you'll still be required to pay your Part B premiums, plus there may be another premium you'll pay on top of that. Or not.
There's a host of Advantage plans that don't charge a premium, and even if you do get stuck paying one, in exchange, you won't be paying for a Part D drug plan, since Advantage plans offer comprehensive coverage that includes prescriptions. Furthermore, when you factor in the amount of money you'll save by not having to pay for important services like dental cleanings or eye exams completely out of pocket, it makes the case for some serious savings.
3. You can try out an Advantage plan before you commit to it
Switching from one health plan to another can be nerve-racking. After all, if you're on a tight budget or get the bulk of your senior income from Social Security, you can't afford any financial surprises. The great thing about Medicare Advantage is that you technically get the option to try out a plan before committing to it for an entire year. If you choose an Advantage plan during fall open enrollment and then find early next year that it doesn't work for you, you'll have the option to choose a new Advantage plan or even revert back to original Medicare, provided you do so no later than March 31.
Is a Medicare Advantage plan right for you?
To be clear, Medicare Advantage isn't perfect. For one thing, it limits you to a more narrow network of providers, whereas original Medicare lets you receive care pretty much anywhere in the U.S. But if you've been less than satisfied with your coverage and expenses under original Medicare, then it could pay to give Medicare Advantage a try -- especially since you have the option to back out within the first three months of 2021 and return to the coverage you're used to.