It’s that time of year for seniors again – Medicare Open Enrollment period. When television ads begin in earnest and mailboxes are stuffed full of confusing advertisements for Medicare and its various policies. Open Enrollment begins on October 15th and lasts through December 7th. In an effort to help folks get a jump on 2020 enrollment, I had the opportunity to speak with Jo Middleton, CFO of TradeMark Insurance Agency where she assists Medicare Beneficiaries with their Medicare choices. Jo said that there are two important things to highlight about the upcoming enrollment period. First, as always, she encourages all enrollees to carefully review their Annual Notice of Change. Secondly, she notes that there will be a substantial change to the Plan Finder tool at MyMedicare.gov.
Annual Notice of Change
The most important matter to attend to is to carefully review the Annual Notice of Change which should be mailed to you in September. This is a thick book, provided by your current health insurance carrier. It will, as the title suggests, describe any upcoming changes in your policy for the 2020 year. This may include premium changes, deductible changes, as well as changes to the drug formulary. The drug formulary will provide the definitive list for any drugs covered under the policy, as well as pricing and restrictions for particular drugs.
The book will provide your plan’s benefits side by side with the changes for the coming year, so it should be easy to spot any significant changes. If you like your current policy, you can keep it or you can evaluate your options to change by using the Medicare Plan Finder.
Medicare Plan Finder
Medicare offers a very helpful Plan Finder tool on their website. However, the Plan Finder is changing this year. One difference you will see this year is that you will need to have an account at MyMedicare.gov in order to save your drug list. The Plan Finder can be used to evaluate your Medicare Part D or Medicare Advantage plan options for the next year. If you choose to explore alternative plans, you will want to be particularly careful this year as the Plan Finder will, evidently, only provide the cheapest premium or the cheapest drug prices in the sorting of plans. Unlike in the past where they provided two additional important pieces of information – 1.) whether or not all of your drugs are covered and 2.) the lowest total out of pocket cost, including premium and drug prices – this year you will need to drill down into the plan details to make sure you are considering all of your needs and making the best decision.
If this is beyond your pay grade and some assistance could be helpful, there are number of good Medicare insurance brokers available to do most of the work for you. If you would like to make things easier for your consulting broker, you should have your ANOC and your list of drugs and dosages available before you call them, and preferably saved in your MyMedicare.gov account.
If you have any questions about Medicare or any other financial matters that may be affecting you, please let us know and we’ll be glad to provide assistance or point you in the direction of someone else who can help. As a reminder, Horizon Wealth Advisors is a fee-only advisor, meaning that our clients pay us for our advice and counsel only and we receive no compensation beyond that paid by our clients.
Many thanks to Jo Middleton for sharing her thoughts and expertise.
Horizon Wealth Advisors is a Houston based fee-only wealth management firm. Horizon is a fiduciary advisor. We specialize in helping successful individuals and families understand, organize, and manage their often complex financial situations. Horizon offers integrated financial planning and investment management services.