What to Check Before the End of Open Enrollment for Medicare

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Greg DuretteBy Greg Durette, Florida Health Connector

The end is near! Hopefully, not in the mortal sense, but rather the end of the Open Enrollment Period for predominantly Medicare Advantage plan members in 2024. We will leave the mortality prognostications to the crazy guy wearing a sandwich board roaming various city streets around the country.

Keep in mind, if you are “aging-in” this year, you have a whole different set of deadlines and circumstances. (See last month’s article.)

This article will cover what you should be checking up on before the March 31st deadline rolls around and locks you in until the next Annual Enrollment Period (October 15 – December 7).

So, what should you do to make sure this year’s coverage selection treats you well and is something you will be happy with until next year?

First, you will have hopefully had some time to try out your new coverage. Whether that is a visit to the doctor of your choice or a trip to the pharmacy, you likely have had a chance to use your current coverage. If you are one of those folks that needs neither, bully for you! However, you should still take this time to conduct further research into whether the doctors, hospitals and pharmacies you favor are included in your network at a reasonable cost.

If you find some changes would be required of your intended selections, you have until March 31st to do something about that.

Note: If you have already made a change during this Open Enrollment Period, you have used your last bite at the apple for the year. Changes made during this Period are final and cannot be changed unless there is a government declared Special Enrollment Period. (This would take another whole article to get your head around!) If you have yet to use this last chance opportunity, then you still have that one chance available.

Second, have you reviewed the functionality of your plan? What I mean is, are you able to easily use your new insurance card and have the providers accept it without a hassle? Do you find it difficult to know why your neighbor with a PPO has a much easier time finding an in-network doctor or facility (especially when travelling) than you have with an HMO? Has your doctor or medical group suddenly stopped accepting your coverage with little to no explanation?

If so, it is time for you to get busy with the business of taking care of you. If you have read my articles for any length of time, you know I am no fan of the grand promises made by the sports figures and celebrities on television about “potentially available” benefits. They love to use the kicker statement, “You MAY be eligible to receive these benefits.” Talk about slick!

The fact of the matter is, the proof is in the pudding. Nobody but you can get you what you need. Do the work. Do the research. Call local, knowledgeable people and get the details that matter to you and ignore those with opinions that might be in their best interests and not your own.

Once you make that final call for the Open Enrollment Period, you can sit back and relax in the comfort of knowing you did the very best for you. Happy 2024!

Greg Durette is an agent with Florida Health Connector based in Niceville providing Medicare throughout the state. He has been licensed in the insurance industry for more than 40 years and can be reached at his office at 850-842-2400, mobile at 978-509-2941 or dedicated and recorded Medicare Line at 850-462-7807.