Just like it’s a good idea for your clients to have an annual check-up for their health, it’s prudent for them to have a yearly Medicare check-up to ensure that coverage will work when folks need it and not break the bank.
The best time of year for everyone in Medicare to have that check-up is in the fall during the Medicare Annual Enrollment Period (AEP). The AEP cycle started Friday, October 15, and ends Tuesday, December 7 for coverage that goes into effect on January 1, 2022.
The Medicare AEP is an opportunity for everyone on Medicare to reevaluate features of their Medicare Advantage, also known as Part C, and Medicare Part D, prescription drug coverage.
Of note, some Medicare Advantage and Part D plans are consolidating 2021 plans into different 2022 Medicare plans with potentially other, more expensive plan coverage and less effective coverage. In addition, specific 2021 Medicare Advantage and Part D plans are discontinued in 2022. As a result, Medicare beneficiaries presently in these plans will not have Medicare Advantage or Part D coverage as of January 1, 2022, unless they take action to enroll in new coverage.
“Your clients look to you as a source of guidance in so many aspects of their financial lives. Medicare and related healthcare expenses are no exception.”
Your clients look to you as a source of guidance in so many aspects of their financial lives. Medicare and related healthcare expenses are no exception. Your clients likely mention when their healthcare costs are increasing or they’re having a hard time getting the care they need. Many times your clients are the caregivers for their elder family members on Medicare. The burden of managing and paying for care falls partially or entirely on them.
Overspending is Rampant
Nearly all (90% to 95%) of beneficiaries overspend on Medicare. That’s a startling statistic. The most common reason beneficiaries overspend is they purchase Medicare Part C (Advantage) and Part D (prescription drug) plans that do not meet their individual healthcare needs.
People tend to buy based on premium and overlook the benefits they use. Couples often purchase the same plan when they would be better off with different insurance coverage. Individuals may not realize the total cost of their healthcare until the new plan year has started, and then it is too late to make a change. Adding to the complexity is that all of these plans vary down to the county and zip code level!
All plans announce new pricing and benefits every fall. However, cost increases may not be in the premium but in other out-of-pocket costs, such as increasing deductibles; medications in a higher, more expensive drug tier; and greater use of co-insurance, as opposed to co-payments.
I advise that your clients do a Medicare check-up if any of the following happened to themselves or those they care for this year.
Just Like Holiday Shopping
Free Medicare Resources
Medicare (www.Medicare.gov) is the official US government site for Medicare.
- 800-MEDICARE (800-633-4227) is answered 24 hours a day every day of the year by live customer service representatives who can conduct Medicare prescription drug plan reviews over the phone.
- The site has a search engine to compare all Medicare Advantage and Part D plans available in every US county and zip code.
- www.MyMedicare.gov is Medicare’s online portal for beneficiaries to manage many aspects of their coverage, including comparison shopping for 2022 at Medicare Advantage and Part D plans.
The State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP) (www.Shiphelp.org, 877-839-2675 national center) directs Medicare-eligible individuals and caregivers to free, local Medicare counseling and assistance throughout the United States. SHIP is a public service of the U.S. Administration for Community Living. The website and automated attendant can direct people to local SHIP offices 24 hours a day every day.
Social Security Administration (www.SocialSecurity.gov, 800-772-1213), Representatives are available by phone Monday through Friday, 8 AM – 7 PM.
Additionally, I recommend that advisors cultivate a referral relationship with well-established Medicare brokers. Those professionals can be very helpful to your clients and assist them with shopping for Medicare coverage.
If your clients are on Medicare or help someone who is, I encourage them to shop for Medicare Advantage (Medicare C) and Medicare D (prescription drug) plans this fall to ensure they get the best value for their money and have access to needed care.
Your clients do not want to be in the 90% to 95% of folks overspending on Medicare and wasting their hard-earned savings. Once the AEP window of opportunity closes on December 7, most Medicare enrollees will have to wait until 2023 to make Medicare coverage changes.