Did you know that the average couple at age 65 will need approximately $280,000 to cover healthcare costs in retirement?(1) Not only is healthcare one of the top five expenses in retirement, but healthcare spending only increases with age.(2) That’s why it is critical to make the most informed Medicare decisions so you have the appropriate amount of healthcare during your golden years.
The problem with Medicare, a federal insurance program designed for people age 65 and older, is that it often seems complicated and confusing. Since there are multiple plans and various enrollment periods, how do you make sense of all the information? Here’s a breakdown of Medicare’s open enrollment period and the actions you can take.
When Is Medicare Open Enrollment?
The Medicare open enrollment period happens at the same time every year due to the changes enacted in 2011, starting on October 15th and ending December 7th. For coverage in 2019, open enrollment will run from October 15, 2018, to December 7, 2018. Once December 8th arrives, the enrollment period closes until the following October. During this time, current Medicare users can switch coverage or add or drop parts of their plan.
Open enrollment is not for those who have never signed up for Medicare, unless the open enrollment period also falls during your initial enrollment time, which begins three months before you turn 65 and ends three months after the month you turn 65. But if you only signed up for Medicare Parts A and B during your initial enrollment, open enrollment gives you the opportunity to make changes to your coverage.
What Are My Open Enrollment Options?
Here is an overview of the changes you can make to your Medicare plan during open enrollment:
- If you have Parts A and B, you can switch to Medicare Part C (or Medicare Advantage), which is often contracted by outside companies that have an agreement with Medicare. This service includes the coverage of both Plan A and Plan B (Original Medicare), as well as additional services, like prescription drug coverage and private fee-for-service plans.
- If you have Medicare Part C, you can switch back to Original Medicare (Parts A and B).
- You can reevaluate your Part C plan and switch to a different Medicare Advantage plan.
- If you already have Parts A and B, you can join or drop a Part D prescription drug plan. This part of Medicare adds the prescription drug coverage for Original Medicare, private fee-for-service plans, and some Medicare cost plans.
- You can switch your Part D prescription drug plan to a different Part D plan.
What Will I Pay For Medicare?
The amount you will pay for Medicare insurance depends on a variety of factors. While many people choose Plan A, the premium for Plan B is paid automatically and costs about $134 annually on average. The cost may vary depending on your income, whether or not you’re still working, and when you originally enrolled. Review the factors to get the best coverage.
As an example to demonstrate the differences in cost, if you worked for more than ten years, your monthly cost for the Plan A premium is $0 because you paid it while you worked. But the costs get higher if you worked for fewer than ten years, climbing to $422 a month.
The Plan B premium also offers coinsurance after you’ve paid your deductible. This means that for some services, you’ll pay only 20% of the total cost.
Improving Coverage During Medicare Open Enrollment
Plan C and Plan D are known as the options with the most coverage. Financially speaking, they are the most comprehensive plans. If you have either the basic Plan A or Plan B, you can improve your coverage using Medigap. This will help you pay for some of the services that are not covered by the higher coverage plans. Part C is also a prudent choice because it provides for services like dental and hearing health, which are not covered by the basic insurance plans.
As you can see, Medicare is complicated and ever-evolving, so don’t try to handle the intricacies alone. I want to ensure that you have a plan to cover all aspects of your retirement and are taking full advantage of all the retirement benefits available to you. If you need help evaluating your Medicare options, reviewing your insurance coverage, or just want to ask a couple of questions, I’m here to help. Call my office at (949) 221-8105 x 2128, or email me at [email protected] to schedule a no-strings-attached meeting.
About Mike Loo
Mike Loo is an independent financial advisor with more than 20 years of experience in the financial services industry. His mission is to make a meaningful impact on the lives of clients and the people they care most about, help them make educated decisions with their money, and build a strong financial foundation for both themselves and their next generation. Mike is committed to meeting a high standard of excellence, taking the time to listen to clients’ needs, and designing strategies that aim to help clients save money and reduce debt. He seeks to fit a client’s investments into their life and educate them so they’ll understand their investments. To learn more about how Mike may be able to help, connect with him on LinkedIn, call his office at (949) 221-8105 x 2128, or email him at [email protected].
Mike Loo is a registered representative for LPL Financial (LPL) and an Investment Advisor Representative (IAR) for Trilogy Capital (TC). Securities offered through LPL, Member FINRA/SIPC. Investment advisory services offered through TC, a Registered Investment Advisor. TC markets advisory services under the name of Trilogy Financial (TF), an affiliated but separate legal entity. TC and TF are separate entities from LPL.