December 7th Has Passed... What's Next?
Within a blink of an eye, October and November have come and gone. Autumn decorations turned into Christmas lights and rakes were traded for snow shovels. For some people, this means nothing other than their favorite season is upon them. But for people on Medicare (44 million individuals), this means that the Annual Enrollment Period (AEP) was here on October 15th and has already passed as the last day was December 7th. This gives seniors the opportunity to change their plan if they are on a Standalone Prescription Drug Plan (PDP) or a Medicare Advantage Plan (MAPD or MA). Did you or someone you know take the opportunity to change what plan they were on? In this blog, we will let you know what is next whether you switched plans or stayed where you were, as well as something most families should consider during this Christmas season.
If you switched plans during AEP, congratulations! That meant that a doctor you see is now in your new plan's network, or maybe it means you are saving hundreds of dollars on medications. Now that you can no longer change plans though, what should you expect next? If you haven't received your card yet, be looking for that in the mail. It may come in a plain envelope, just like if you were receiving a new credit card. Because of this, please at least till the end of December open all your mail even if you think it is junk mail. They do this so that insurance cards don't get taken. If you don't receive your new insurance card through the mail by the end of December, if we are your writing agent, don't hesitate to let us know, and we will reach out to make sure it is being sent your way. We would love to do this for anyone who needs it, but unfortunately, insurance carriers only allow the client or the agent to request this. Once January 1st is here, you may shred your previous card that your new plan is replacing and start using your new card.
Another common question asked when switching plans is, "Do I need to let the previous insurance company know that I am switching to another plan?" If you are changing your Advantage Plan or Prescription Drug Plan, you do not. These plans are regulated by the Federal Government and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). Therefore, when you get accepted into another plan, on January 1st you will automatically be disenrolled in your previous plan.
Staying With Your Current Plan
Hopefully, your insurance agent or agency still reached out to remind you of AEP and went over any options available. If that didn't happen, you may want to look for an agency that cares for you and your specific situation, which will continue to manage your insurance over time. Either way, you will be locked into your plan until the following year when you could change it again during AEP. Even if you didn't change your plan this year, that won't prevent you from changing the following year as you can review your PDP or MAPD plan's every year.
If you stayed with your current plan, don't be surprised if you receive a new card as some companies automatically send you a new card every year. If you don't receive a new card, continue to use your card from the previous year as most companies won't have you change your card if you stay on your plan. Whether you receive a new card or not, you should have received an Annual Notice of Change (ANOC). This shows any changes in your plan. This could be the premium, cost of medications, networks, etc.
No matter what stage of life you are in, this is a great time to sit back and reflect on the previous year, as well as look into the coming year. This reflection may be very encouraging and positive for some. Maybe you just got married, had a child, or bought a house. If this is you, maybe it is time to look into life insurance to help the ones you love if something were to happen to you. Others may come to a realization that they are aging, and will someday be in a nursing home or need home health care. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, about 40 percent of individuals over the age of 65 will require some type of long-term care services during their lifetime. There are many attractive Long Term Care (LTC) policies now available as well, that can be catered to your budget, expected duration, or monthly coverage amount. There are now even policies that can act as a life insurance policy/ return of premium if you don't use your LTC benefit. This could be a hard conversation to have for some people with their siblings who see that their parents are aging and will someday need to be put into an assisted living facility. Although this may not be a fun conversation, it is a good time to take care of it as the family is together.
No matter where you are at in life, we are here to help you and your needs however we can. Asking for a quote to look at rates by no means obligates you to sign up. We are here for you and want what is best for you and your family. In the next blog, we will explain Long-Term Care in more depth, and view the wide range of coverage that it offers.
We hope that all of you have a blessed Christmas. For some, it will be a different season with fewer family gatherings. But the hope of why we celebrate Christmas will never change. Jesus came to the world for us. And we pray that can bring you joy this Christmas.