By Brett Gottlieb
As you work through your retirement checklist, did you get stuck on healthcare planning? Enrolling in the right healthcare coverage is an incredibly important decision that can often feel overwhelming. Not only do you want to make sure you have coverage for your medical needs (both known and unknown), but you also want to find a plan that offers good value without an exorbitant price tag. In other words, there’s a lot riding on your decision.
To help you out, here’s a summary of the multiple Medicare plans available and the various enrollment periods to be aware of. For those who are already enrolled, this is an ideal time to reassess your coverage to make sure it’s still the best fit for you.
Who Should Be Aware of Medicare Open Enrollment?
Medicare open enrollment is for people who are already a part of the Medicare system. Even if you are only signed up for Parts A and B, you can still take advantage of open enrollment.
If you have not yet enrolled in Medicare, then open enrollment does not apply to you. Your initial enrollment period is based upon your birthday, not a set date on a calendar. You need to sign up for coverage during the window of time that starts three months before the month of your 65th birthday and ends at the end of the third month after, for a total of seven months.
When Is Medicare Open Enrollment?
Open enrollment for existing Medicare participants, though, has nothing to do with your birthday. It is at the same time every year, and everyone currently enrolled can participate in it, even if you only began Medicare the month before. This year, open enrollment is in effect from Oct. 15, 2021, to Dec. 7, 2021. The decisions you make during that period will affect your 2022 medical coverage.
Starting in 2019 and continuing into subsequent years, there is a new open enrollment period for Medicare Advantage plans only from January 1 to March 31. This open enrollment is more restrictive than the Medicare open enrollment that happens in the fall. Also, it only applies to the Medicare Advantage plans, so any other changes need to be made during the Medicare open enrollment that is fast approaching.
What Are My Open Enrollment Options?
Medicare open enrollment is the annual opportunity for all participants to change their Medicare coverage. Here are some of the changes you can make during open enrollment:
- Enroll in Medicare Part C (Medicare Advantage) for the first time. If you currently have Parts A and B (Original Medicare), you can switch to Part C. Part C is contracted by outside companies and offers the same coverage as Original Medicare but can include even more services.
- Switch back to Original Medicare (Parts A and B) if you currently have Medicare Advantage (Part C).
- Change your current Part C plan to a different Medicare Advantage plan.
- Enroll in or drop Part D prescription drug coverage.
- Change your current Part D plan to a different prescription drug coverage Part D plan.
What Will Open Enrollment Changes Cost?
The costs of Parts C and D vary depending on the plan you choose. If you’re looking at switching from a Part C plan to Original Medicare, then the costs will depend upon your income and how long you worked and paid into the Medicare system.
The standard premium for Medicare Part B is $148.50 for 2021. However, if your income is over $88,000 for a single person or $176,000 for a couple, then your premium will be higher. The range for high-income earners is from $297 to $504.90.
Medicare Part A is free if you or your spouse paid into Medicare for at least 10 years, or 40 quarters. If you only have 30-39 quarters, it costs $259. The premium for less than 30 quarters is $471.
Overwhelmed by Open Enrollment? We Can Help.
A recent study conducted by the Kaiser Family Foundation found that only 6% to 13%, a relatively small percentage of Medicare enrollees, switched their Medicare Part D in any single year between 2006 and 2016. And nearly half of enrollees “rarely or never” review their Medicare plans during that same time period. According to that same study, nearly half of those surveyed said it was too difficult to compare plans.
While it is true that choosing the right Medicare plan can be a complicated endeavor, it is also true that choosing the wrong plan could negatively impact your wealth management strategy. Simply put, taking your time and shopping around for the right plan will benefit your health and medical needs while also benefiting your pocketbook. The right financial advisor can help you reassess which plan will work for you. Schedule a complimentary consultation by reaching out to us at info@ComprehensiveAdvisor.com or calling (760) 813-2125.
About Our Advisors
Brett Gottlieb is the founder of Comprehensive Advisor and a financial advisor with nearly two decades of industry experience. He graduated from California State University-Chico with two bachelor’s degrees in Business Administration and Economics. Brett is Life Insurance licensed in several states. He is passionate about guiding his clients on retirement income planning, helping each client pursue their specific retirement goals and defending the assets his clients have worked so hard to achieve. Brett is a California native and currently resides in San Elijo Hills with his beautiful wife and three children.
With a combined experience of over three decades in the financial services industry, our advisors hail from some of the largest independent broker/dealers and banking institutions in the country. They have dedicated their professional careers to creating personalized financial solutions for individuals and families who seek successful retirement planning and currently offer investment advisory services through AE Wealth Management, LLC. Our advisors take a common-sense approach to the planning process and work with clients to create a retirement road map to help ensure their assets are protected and they receive the income needed to enjoy their future. Based in Carlsbad, California, they work with clients throughout San Diego County and beyond. Learn more by connecting with Brett on LinkedIn or email them at info@ComprehensiveAdvisor.com.
Our firm is not affiliated with the U.S. government or the federal Medicare program. This material is intended to provide general information and is believed to be reliable, but accuracy and completeness cannot be guaranteed. Comprehensive Advisor, LLC is an independent financial services firm that utilizes a variety of investment and insurance products. Investment advisory services offered only by duly registered individuals through AE Wealth Management, LLC (AEWM). AEWM and Comprehensive Advisor are not affiliated companies.
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