- Written by Christian Simmons
Christian Simmons is a writer for RetireGuide and a member of the Association for Financial Counseling & Planning Education (AFCPE®). He covers Medicare and important retirement topics. Christian is a former winner of a Florida Society of News Editors journalism contest and has written professionally since 2016.Read More
- Edited ByLamia Chowdhury
Lamia Chowdhury is a financial content editor for RetireGuide and has over three years of marketing experience in the finance industry. She has written copy for both digital and print pieces ranging from blogs, radio scripts and search ads to billboards, brochures, mailers and more.Read More
- Published: August 15, 2022
- Updated: January 17, 2023
- 7 min read time
- This page features 4 Cited Research Articles
- Edited By
- From availability to cost, Medicare plans change every year. Your options last year may not be the same as they are this year.
- Reviewing all the plans available during open enrollment can give you a better chance of finding the best option for your needs.
- Even if you are happy with your current coverage, it may still make sense to review your options to ensure you aren’t missing out on a better plan.
Why Is Medicare Open Enrollment Important?
Some beneficiaries may view Medicare open enrollment as a period that is only helpful to those who are unhappy with their current plan or coverage.
But in reality, open enrollment is a tool for all Medicare beneficiaries to take advantage of.
- You can review your current coverage
- You can research new plans that may not have been available last year
- You can evaluate changes to your costs and coverage compared to other available plans
If you are already enrolled in Medicare, you can use the open enrollment period to review your options and compare any changes from last year. Your plan may have changed, and your other options available may have changed as well.
For example, you may be perfectly happy with your current plan since it matched up with your health care needs. But this year, there may be a new plan added to your area that is more advantageous.
It is always worth checking into, even if you don’t end up making any changes.
This is especially true since open enrollment is the only time of the year that you can opt to make all of these changes, whether you’re switching from Original Medicare to Medicare Advantage, vice versa or purchasing a Part D prescription drug plan.
Open enrollment gives you the chance to stay on top of your health care options.
Medicare Benefits Review
Medicare is not a stagnant area of health care. Plan offerings are constantly evolving from coverage to costs and deductibles. Even the federal-funded Original Medicare updates its premiums each year.
Your current plan is unlikely to match up to its other options the exact same way it did last year.
While Original Medicare undergoes cost changes, Medicare Advantage goes through plenty of updates each year as well. Since these private plans are provided regionally, you may see new or updated options pop up in your area.
The same is true for Part D, which may now have different options available to you.
Reviewing your Medicare benefits allows you to stay ahead and take advantage of any changes to Medicare coverage that will affect you.
Original Medicare Changes
There are Medicare changes every year, but the changes to Original Medicare were particularly notable in 2022.
Original Medicare beneficiaries saw a historic rise in the cost of premiums, making Original Medicare more expensive than ever before.
There were some positive changes for beneficiaries as well, such as an increased availability of mental health services and expansion of COVID-19 coverage.
The rising cost of Original Medicare may play a role in which plans and coverage make the most sense for you now.
Medicare Advantage Changes
Medicare Advantage can go through many changes each year. Since the plans, which are provided by private insurers, are typically available regionally, your options may shift from year to year.
You may find that there are new options available where you live that match up differently to your current plan than last year’s options.
It may be worth it for you to at least explore any new Medicare Advantage options to ensure that you are not missing out on a plan that makes more sense for you.
According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, the average beneficiary had access to 39 Medicare Advantage plans in 2022. That’s more than double the number of plans per beneficiary in 2017.
So, there is a good chance that your options may have expanded.
Prescription Drug Changes
Like Medicare Advantage plans, Part D plans are provided by private insurance companies and the options available to you each year may change.
Part D plans can be purchased as standalone plans that can be paired with Original Medicare, or they may be included as part of a Medicare Advantage plan.
So, the options available to you can change in a couple of ways. If you are on Original Medicare, you may have different standalone options available to you.
And more Medicare Advantage plans that include Part D may also be available.
Reasons to Review Medicare Plans During Open Enrollment
It may be a good idea to review your health care coverage each year. But it is especially true this year due to several economic factors that may impact your Medicare coverage.
Rising Health Care Costs
Health care costs across the board are rising, and this could impact your Medicare plan options. Some plans may simply become more expensive, with Original Medicare already seeing a big rise in costs in 2022.
If you have financial restraints, you may have to be ready to adjust your Medicare coverage to adapt to the changes in cost.
Inflation has been dramatically on the rise in the U.S. for much of 2022, and this could have an impact on your Medicare plan options as well.
Similar to rising health care costs, inflation could potentially play a role in making your plan options more expensive.
Review all your options to help you counteract the effects of inflation.
How a Medicare Professional Can Help
According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, seven out of 10 beneficiaries did not compare their plan options during the 2018 open enrollment period.
A Medicare professional can help you fully take advantage of the open enrollment period by helping ensure you have a solid understanding of all the options that are available to you.
Simplify the Process
Medicare is a complex subject. Understanding the differences between Original Medicare and Medicare Advantage or between two private plans can be confusing.
A Medicare professional can help make sense of the process and provide you your plan options in easy-to-understand terms.
Finding the right plan for you can be a lot easier when the process is simplified and you don’t have to go plan by plan to identify the differences in costs and coverage.
Explain the Latest Changes
Medicare changes every year. Some changes may be small, like a tweak in coverage, while others can be big, like a significant rise in premiums.
A Medicare professional can help explain the latest changes to you instead of you having to sort them out for yourself.
One advantage of this is naturally having a better understanding of how Medicare and your options have changed in the last year.
But a professional can also help identify the changes that impact you the most, including any updates that may be particularly advantageous to you.
Ease Disruptions in Care
One risk that beneficiaries take when they try to identify the right plan on their own is picking the wrong one. There may have been a better option that you missed, or you may not have understood how switching plans will disrupt your current care.
Working with a Medicare professional can alleviate those concerns since they have a wider range of knowledge on Medicare and can send you in the right direction.
They may know about some pitfall or potential disruption of choosing a certain plan, which may not be as immediately clear to you.
Minimize Out-of-Pocket Costs
Most beneficiaries naturally want to find a plan that will help them save the most money.
You can go through the information of each plan yourself, but a Medicare professional can help you find the right plan to minimize your out-of-pocket expenses.
Ultimately, they can help you find the perfect combination of a plan that provides the coverage you need but at the lowest cost.
Share Relevant Information
Using open enrollment to go through all the plans available to you can require a lot of research. A Medicare professional can share the relevant information you need to find the right plan.
Essentially, they can make things easier by narrowing down your options, so you don’t waste time researching plans that do not make sense for you.
4 Cited Research Articles
- Kaiser Family Foundation. (2021, November 2). Medicare Advantage 2022 Spotlight: First Look. Retrieved from https://www.kff.org/medicare/issue-brief/medicare-advantage-2022-spotlight-first-look/
- Kaiser Family Foundation. (2021, November 2). Medicare Part D: A First Look at Medicare Prescription Drug Plans in 2022. Retrieved from https://www.kff.org/medicare/issue-brief/medicare-part-d-a-first-look-at-medicare-prescription-drug-plans-in-2022/
- Kaiser Family Foundation. (2021, October 13). Seven in Ten Medicare Beneficiaries Did Not Compare Plans During Past Open Enrollment Period. Retrieved from https://www.kff.org/medicare/issue-brief/a-relatively-small-share-of-medicare-beneficiaries-compared-plans-during-a-recent-open-enrollment-period/
- U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. (n.d.). Yearly Medicare Plan Review. Retrieved from https://www.medicare.gov/Pubs/pdf/11220-Medicare-Yearly-Review.pdf
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