Anyone eligible for Medicare should know that open enrollment starts on October 15th this year and ends December 7th.  This is a critical period because this is the time when you can change your Medicare coverage without incurring penalties or additional fees.
Before this enrollment period starts, make sure to reassess your current Medicare plan and consider potential options if you intend to modify your health insurance plans. Below we’ll share some of the basics about Medicare that everyone should know about before signing-up or switching plans.
Am I Eligible for Medicare?
In most situations, you will be covered by Medicare automatically once your turn 65, as long as you’ve paid taxes for Medicare for no less than ten years. Younger people with disabilities or End-Stage Renal Disease are also covered.  While Part A is free, any other parts demand an additional monthly premium.
How Does Medicare Coverage Work?
Medicare coverage is split into four different parts with different benefits. Whether you’re signing up for the first time or making changes to an existing Medicare plan, you must review the available parts before making a decision. Here are the four different available parts for Medicare:
Most people get Part A coverage automatically once reaching 65. This part offers inpatient hospital care in several different hospitals, including mental and critical-access hospitals. Moreover, you get access to nursing services, semi-private accommodation, necessary medications, meals, medical social services, physical therapy, and home care.
This form of Medicare plan offers coverage for outpatient care, ambulances, preventive care, prescribed medical equipment, rehabilitative services, and home health services. If you’re eligible for Part A, you also qualify for Part B, but it comes with a monthly premium which is taken from your Social Security benefits. Also, keep in mind that you may be eligible for Plan B coverage under certain criteria even if you don’t qualify for a Part A plan.
If Medicare Part A and B don’t cover your prescription drugs, then the optional Part D might be the solution for you. Part D coverage is available with a Medicare Advantage plan covering Parts A and B. Another way to get access is to sign-up for a regional Part D plan. Adding a Part D is best done during the open enrollment period that starts in October of each year.
Medigap or Part G plans are like the older Part C and F plans that are currently available only for those who sign up for Medicare before January 1st, 2020. Part G plan holders pay a monthly fee, so the plan resembles common health insurance plans. With Part G plans, you get original Medicare Parts A and B coverage and additional coverage. Private insurance companies handle these plans, while HMOs (health maintenance organizations) and PPOs (preferred provider organizations administer them.
How Can I Change My Medicare Coverage?
Original Medicare Parts A and B care available through the federal government. A supplemental plan or a Part G plan is available through private insurance companies. Leaving Medicare or switching from private to Medicare requires that you contact your current private insurance company. To cancel plans, notify a representative and they’ll handle the rest.
Should I Get Supplemental Insurance?
Medicare is a blessing for many people, but it doesn’t cover everything all the time. So, if you want full coverage while avoiding additional costs, you should consider a supplemental policy with a cap on out-of-pocket expenses.
Keep Track of These Important Dates
The Medicare open enrollment period lasts for three months, from October 15th to December 7th. This is the ideal time to switch Medicare plans or make changes to Part D plans. Those who miss this period can switch from Medigap to an original Medicare plan from January 1st to February 14th and have the limit to sign up for a Part D prescription drug plan. Finally, you can also sign up for Medicare after being eligible from January 1st to March 31st, but often with a penalty.