Millions of seniors get health coverage through Medicare. For some, that coverage kicks in once they retire. Others, meanwhile, may opt to sign up for Medicare even while they're still working.
Each year, existing enrollees get an opportunity to review their coverage for the upcoming year and make changes as necessary. It's a period known as open enrollment, and it'll soon be coming to an end. And so if you're on Medicare and have yet to review your plan choices for 2022, it pays to get moving now.
Should you switch your Part D drug plan?
If you're on original Medicare, you'll need a Part D plan to pay for prescriptions. Even if you're happy with the plan you have now, it pays to see if there's a less expensive alternative for you -- perhaps one that groups the drugs you take into a tier that results in lower out-of-pocket costs.
It especially pays to look at changing your Part D plan if:
- Your prescription needs have changed
- Your costs under your existing plan are going up (you should've received a change notice from your plan already that would point to this)
- It's been a struggle to find in-network pharmacies
Should you switch your Medicare Advantage plan?
Some seniors opt for Medicare Advantage instead of original Medicare because it can be less expensive, all the while offering a wider scope of coverage. For example, original Medicare won't cover commonly needed services like dental care, hearing aids, and vision exams. Medicare Advantage plans generally do pick up the tab for these costs.
You may think you're on a good Advantage plan already. But it pays to look at changing your coverage if:
- You're having a hard time finding in-network providers you like or that are conveniently located (this applies to doctors as well as pharmacies)
- Your prescription costs have risen
- Your healthcare needs have changed, such as if you've been diagnosed with a specific condition or another condition has improved to the point where you don't need treatment for it
How to assess your plan choices
Medicare has a plan finder tool you can use to compare your coverage choices for 2022. Once you access it, you'll be given the option to choose between an Advantage plan and a Part D plan.
From there, you'll enter your zip code, as plan choices vary based on geographic location. And then, you'll get a chance to input your current prescriptions so you can see what costs you might be looking at with a new plan.
Once the plan finder tool generates a list of options, you'll be able to compare your premium and deductible costs to see what expenses you'll face. You'll also get to see each plan's star rating, which tells you how satisfied (or not) existing enrollees are with that plan.
Don't miss your chance to sign up for better coverage
The choices you make in the next couple of weeks will dictate what your Medicare coverage looks like for 2022. If you've yet to explore your plan choices during open enrollment, carve out some time to see what options are available to you.
But don't wait -- open enrollment wraps up on December 7. If you miss the boat, you could really end up regretting it.