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Medicare Open Enrollment Is Coming, so Prepare to Make These 3 Moves

By Maurie Backman – Updated Sep 30, 2021 at 8:15AM

Key Points

  • Millions of seniors get health coverage through Medicare.
  • Medicare's open enrollment period runs from Oct. 15 through Dec. 7.
  • Participants can make key changes to their coverage for 2022.

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Here's your chance to change your Medicare coverage for the better.

While many of us are eagerly awaiting the return of colored leaves and a full-fledged pumpkin spice takeover, seniors on Medicare may be eagerly awaiting the beginning of open enrollment. Each fall, Medicare participants are entitled to make changes to their coverage during open enrollment, which runs from Oct. 15 through Dec. 7. If you're on Medicare, here are a few key moves to make.

1. Figure out if your current plan is changing

Healthcare is a major expense for seniors -- one that can easily eat into their retirement savings. As such, it's important to have Medicare coverage that's as cost-effective as possible.

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Image source: Getty Images.

It could be the case that your current Medicare Advantage or Part D drug plan is worth keeping going into 2022. But to know that, you'll need to see if your plan is changing -- and if so, for better or for worse.

Each year, your plan is required to send you a notice highlighting the changes that will go into effect for the upcoming year. Don't neglect that notice, and reach out to your plan administrator if you don't receive it in time for open enrollment. It could contain key information you need to make a smart decision.

2. Review your Part D drug-plan choices

Even if your Part D drug plan isn't changing going into 2022, your personal needs may be different. You may be starting a new medication or switching medications based on your doctor's recommendation.

That's why it's a good idea to see what other Part D plans are out there -- even if you're happy with the coverage you have now. It may be that there's a better or more cost-effective plan for you to switch over to.

3. Decide if a Medicare Advantage plan is right for you

Many seniors opt to stick with original Medicare, which consists of Part A (hospital coverage), Part B (outpatient services), and Part D (prescription drugs). But now may be a good time to look into swapping original Medicare for Medicare Advantage, an all-in-one plan that may provide more coverage than what your current setup allows for.

One major drawback of original Medicare is that it doesn't cover common services like dental care, vision exams, and hearing aids. Medicare Advantage, on the other hand, commonly pays for these services. Plus, many Advantage plans offer supplemental benefits like meal-delivery services and wellness programs that not only improve your health, but enhance your general quality of life.

Furthermore, though the cost of Medicare Advantage will hinge on the specific plan you choose, you won't necessarily pay more for Advantage than for original Medicare. In fact, you could wind up paying less.

Make the most of open enrollment

Though Medicare's open-enrollment period lasts seven weeks, it's easy to get caught up in other things and forget about it. Don't make that mistake. If you don't change your coverage during open enrollment, you'll be stuck with your current setup for another year, so don't pass up the chance to sign up for a better plan while you can.

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