Medicare has a second, little-known open enrollment period that begins January 1st, states Jesse Slome, director of the Medicare insurance advocacy organization. “During this Medicare Open Enrollment Period people who have Medicare Advantage coverage can make a one-time switch.
According to Slome, some 26 million Americans are estimated to have Medicare Advantage coverage. The number has increased steadily from 11 million in 2010. Last year AAMSI reported some 24 million MA plan participants nationally.
Medicare Advantage plans can change on January 1st and this open enrollment gives consumers an opportunity to re-evaluate their current choice and make a one-time switch, Slome explains. This special period ends March 31st and only applies to those who currently have a plan and wish to switch to another or back to original Medicare.
The Medicare insurance expert estimates that around 8-to-10 percent of people enrolled in a Medicare Advantage plan switched to another plan in previous years.
That can amount to 2 million people, Slome advised. It could be higher this year as more Medicare Advantage plans add benefits such as dental, vision and even include such things as meals and transportation.
The typical consumer has between 25 and 50 different MA plans available to compare and choose from, Slome notes. Thats far too many to compare on your own and calling a toll-free hotline may connect you with someone not really familiar with locally available providers and options.
Slome suggests consumers look for a local independent Medicare insurance agent. Ask if they sell Medicare Advantage plans because while many do, some only focus on Medicare Supplement options, Slome shares. A local agent will likely be familiar with what other area consumers have to say about the particular plan, the medical facilities and healthcare providers included with the coverage.
The American Association for Medicare Supplement Insurance makes available the largest online directory listing Medicare insurance agents. Access it at https://www.medicaresupp.org/find-local-agent. AAMSI advocates for the importance of educated planning and supports insurance professionals who market Medicare insurance solutions. For more information, visit the organization’s website at https://www.medicaresupp.org.