As of the beginning of each year, Medicare beneficiaries have the opportunity to make changes to their health insurance coverage throughout the rest of that year, with special attention paid to changes made during the annual election period between Oct. 15 and Dec. 7 (in years when Oct. 15 falls on a weekend or holiday, the deadline extends one week). For some seniors, this can be confusing and stressful. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services want seniors to know they have resources available to guide them through the process and help them make informed decisions about their health care plans during these months.
1) Start by reviewing your current coverage
Medicare is a government program that provides health insurance to Americans who are over 65 or have been disabled for at least two years. It covers necessary medical care, such as doctor visits, hospital stays, and lab tests. The coverage is divided into four parts: A (Hospital Insurance), B (Medical Insurance), C (Medicare Advantage), and D (Prescription Drug Coverage). There are many factors that go into deciding which type of coverage is best for you.
2) The penalty is higher if you make a mistake on purpose
The penalty for a mistake made on purpose is $1,000.00. The penalty for mistakes that occur because of carelessness or disregard is $500.00. In either case, the penalty cannot exceed 25% of the Social Security benefits paid as a result of the mistake.
3) Renewal notices are mailed out in July
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) contacts seniors by mail in July with a notice of their upcoming annual election period. If they do not make an election before the deadline, they will receive a notice that their health plan is ending at the end of the month and they will need to sign up for new coverage.
4) If there are no changes, renewal happens automatically
If there are no changes, you don’t need to do anything. You will automatically be enrolled in the same plan for the next year. If you want to make any changes, there is a window of time between October 15 and December 7 where you can make changes.
5) Changes made before October 15 are effective January 1st
Starting now, seniors can make changes to their Medicare coverage for 2018 during the annual election period. Starting October 15th, seniors have a window of time to make any changes that they need and those changes will be effective January 1st. Whether you want to stop paying premiums or start paying higher premiums, there are a number of things you can do during this time.
6) Changes made after October 15 will be effective the following year (January 1st)
The annual election period for Medicare is October 15 to December 7th. Changes made on or after this date will be effective the following year (January 1st). Seniors can visit www.medicare.gov to make changes such as selecting a prescription drug plan, selecting a primary care provider, or adding additional benefits like hospice care. But don’t wait too long: changes made after December 7th will not be effective until January 1st of the next year!
7) How To Change Your Plan Online (if you have internet access)
When it’s time to select your plan for the coming year, visit your state’s healthcare.gov website and log in to the Marketplace using your Marketplace ID and password.
Once you’re logged in, you’ll see a screen with options to change your plan, review new options that may be available for 2018, or learn more about Medicare Advantage plans.
Scroll down to find the Change My Plan button and click on it.
8) Use Medicare.gov for your guide on choices and enrollment periods
Medicare is a government health insurance for people who are 65 or older, disabled, or who have been on Social Security payments for at least 10 years. Medicare is divided into four parts: Part A covers hospital visits, Part B covers medical visits (doctors and other healthcare providers), Part C and D cover prescription drugs. When you turn 65 years old you will be automatically enrolled into Medicare Part A and B but you will need to sign up for Parts C and D.
9) Call 800-MEDICARE with any questions or concerns about your healthcare coverage
If you are a senior citizen on Medicare and have questions or concerns about your coverage, please call the 800-MEDICARE phone number at any time. Customer service representatives are available to assist you with any questions or concerns 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
10) Do not procrastinate as insurance could be denied if submitted late
The Medicare annual election period is a time for seniors to review their health care coverage and make any changes necessary. Seniors should not delay submitting a change in their coverage because if they do, insurance could be denied from the date of the missed deadline.