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Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment Period Starts

Category: Health and Wellness Issues

October 13, 2021 – The Open Enrollment Period for Medicare starts this week on October 15 and ends December. 7. It is an important event for eligible people not currently enrolled in the plan, or who want to change plans or some component of their current plan.

During Open Enrollment, eligible people can sign up for Medicare. They can compare coverage options like Original Medicare and Medicare Advantage, and choose health and prescription drug plans for 2021. Medicare Advantage plans have started to outsell original Medicare policies because of their increased coverages and low (even zero) premiums. If you are thinking about switching to a Medicare Advantage plan (or type of plan within Medicare Advantage), this is the time to do it. See Original Medicare Vs. Medicare Advantage – Which Is Better for You?

Medicare Plan Finder. Medicare health and drug plan costs and covered benefits can change from year-to-year. CMS urges Medicare beneficiaries to review their coverage choices and decide on the options that best meet their health needs. CMS’s Medicare Plan Finder makes it easier for beneficiaries to:

  • Compare pricing between Original Medicare, Medicare prescription drug plans, Medicare Advantage plans, and Medicare Supplement Insurance (Medigap) policies;
  • Compare coverage options on their smartphones and tablets;
  • Compare up to three drug plans or three Medicare Advantage plans side-by-side;
  • Get plan costs and benefits, including which Medicare Advantage plans offer extra benefits;
  • Build a personal drug list and find Medicare Part D prescription drug coverage that best meets their needs.
  • Free, personalized counseling on Medicare options is also available through the nonprofit State Health Insurance Assistance Program, or calling 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227). TTY users can call 1-877-486-2048.

Highlights for 2021 Open Enrollment include:

  •  The average premium for Medicare Advantage plans will be lower in 2022 at $19 per month, compared to $21.22 in 2021, while projected enrollment continues to increase. The average 2022 premium for Part D coverage will be $33 per month, compared to $31.47 in 2021.
  • Part B Medicare premiums for 2022 have not been released yet, but some experts predict an estimated 6.2% premium increase, with monthly costs jumping from $148.50 to $157.70.

Note: Most of the above information is from the Medicare.gov website. For more about see Medicare Open Enrollment.

For further reading:

What Is Your Medicare IQ

What You Need to Know About Medigap Insurance

Original Medicare Vs. Medicare Advantage – Which Is Better for You?

Comments? Do you ever change your Medicare plan, or do you tend to stick with the same one over and over? Please share your experience in the Comments section below.

Posted by Admin on October 12th, 2021

12 Comments »

  1. Medicare Advantage plans are unwise! Hidden co pays, in plan doctors only, expensive hospital stays! Use these only if you are on Medicaid and in great health otherwise it could be a costly error

    by Ron — October 13, 2021

  2. Ron, just like most things not all Medicare Advantage plans are alike. It would be wise to research each plan, whether Advantage plan or otherwise, for the one that best suits you. We have been with the Kaiser Senior Advantage plan and are extremely happy with it. The system we are affiliated with in Northern California is top notch, they have an amazing comprehensive system that more than works for us.

    by GreenTbird — October 13, 2021

  3. Ron,

    I have also stated this in previous discussions on Medicare Advantage Plans and Medi-gap plans. Advantage plans can be very tricky and many doctors in my area have opted out of them. I am a former nurse and assisted patients with their insurance plans in a surgery practice for 12.5 years as well as internal medicine for three years after that. I learned a lot! If you travel and your advantage plan requires pre-authorization, you better hope it was done. If not, you may have very high out-of-pocket costs, especially if your provider is not in-network. Also, Advantage plans only pay so much if chemo is required and then guess who pays the rest??? There is a ceiling also on their dental plans and only preventative care is covered–nothing for crowns, implants, etc.

    I refer people to Boomer Benefits, a free service, and insurance broker who will confirm all that I have learned. Still, the government would love to dump all of us seniors off traditional Medicare and into these plans as they do not like being in the insurance business.

    There are people on this forum who are more than happy with their low or no fee advantage plans. aI would caution patients to ready the fine print. Just be sure you remain in good health, eat good nutritional food, and exercise. I hope they never need to use those Advantage plans if they get really sick. The Advantage Plans lure with great benefits, but often those can be dropped and often are.

    I chose traditional Medicare, Med-gap Part N, and a good Part D plan through AARP United Healthcare. The premiums rise slowly and the coverage is good in the District of Columbia ( you have to check benefits and prices in your particular state of residence). So far, so good. Once a plan is chosen (Medi-gap or Advantage plans) then to change plans insurance companies usually require underwriting to change coverage and if you have any chronic condition coverage can be denied, thus forcing people to stay with their original choice.

    by Jennifer — October 14, 2021

  4. I saw a very deceptive commercial last night hosted by former NFL quarterback Joe Namath. He was encouraging viewers to call some “Free” Medicare advice line, undoubtedly run by one of the Medicare Advantage plans. He promised all kinds of free benefits by doing so. What was truly misleading was the possibility that just by calling this number, you could increase your Social Security amount. I suppose that if you enrolled in a Medicare Advantage plan you could lower your Medicare premium. Because, in most cases, premiums are deducted from your Social Security, a lower premium would result in less being withheld from Social Security and thus, an increase in the monthly amount of Social Security. However, this was not explained by Joe and the commercial implied that just by calling, you would increase you SS benefit. This commercial, in my opinion, was very deceptive and unethical.

    by LS — October 14, 2021

  5. I emphatically endorse Jennifer’s comments. As a newly retired hospital CEO, I can attest that Medicare Advantage plans and all their freebies are great if you are healthy, but as soon as something catastrophic happens, it turns into a decision that patients regret because either expensive care is denied or becomes exorbitantly expensive. After all, that’s how the MA plans afford to give away dental, vision, etc. care.

    As a VERY educated consumer through a lifetime in the healthcare business, I elected traditional Medicare with a Blue Cross supplement.

    by Carolyn — October 14, 2021

  6. Every year about this time there’s a lot of debate/discussion on this site about regular Medicare vs. Medicare Advantage. Often there’s personal opinion and some misinformation and disinformation. I encourage anyone who has questions or is somewhat confused about plans to see a licensed independent Medicare insurance agent. There is no cost to this and the agent is required by law to receive the same amount of commission, no matter what plan is ultimately selected. So there’s no incentive to steer someone to any particular plan, only the one that works best for them. Also, the premiums for any particular plan are the same whether you use an agent or not. There is also a huge amount of information at Medicare.gov. Seeing an agent usually takes the guesswork and confusion out of the process and can save a lot of time and anxiety.

    by Clyde — October 14, 2021

  7. Good Morning to all!

    LS, I have seen that advantage plan with Joe Namath as well. You hit the nail on the head. By not charging for the Medicare premium currently $148.50–it is thus NOT taken from your Social Security check–money that was yours anyway and it looks like you have gotten some kind of bonus.

    The zero-premium advantage plans are very sly as they are the first to deny coverage when one needs it the most and they drop or reduce benefits right and left. I have a friend in DC who has Kaiser and likes it, however, he is not covered if he travels out of his locale. With traditional Medicare and a good Medi-gap plan ANY doctor that participates with Medicare must accept the Medi-gap by law and secondary charges are automatically billed to the secondary these days.

    Buyer Beware is the name of the game!

    by Jennifer — October 15, 2021

  8. Yes it is open enrollment time again and the industry is looking for your business. If you are new to Medicare or if you are already enrolled in Medicare, you should first talk to a SHIP/SHINE counselor in your area. All the counselors are certified and they are all background checked and fingerprinted and do not share your information with anyone. They do not sell anything and they are all volunteers. They know the good and the bad and the ugly about all the plan options in their geographic area. You have choices and there are economic and logistical good and bad related to all choices. There are also issues if you make the wrong choice so seeking professional help from an unbiased source is the best thing you can do for yourself.

    All agents do get a commission when they sell products. If they sell an Advantage plan they get a bigger commission and they get residual $$ for every month the enrollee stays on the plan. Nothing wrong with an agent making a living but first make sure you know what is the best choice for you and then either enroll on line or go to a reputable agent to have them enroll you in the plan you chose.

    All states have SHIP/SHINE counselors usually through their Area Agencies on Aging.

    by Roberta — October 15, 2021

  9. As a recently retired Social Worker from the VA I was
    often asked about Medicare and Medicare Advantage plans
    Heard many stories and helped Veterans who had
    problems. I am within my 8 months after retirement
    and I chose traditional Medicare. Medicare
    Advantage plans are ok until there is a problem such
    as a doctor was in the plan and now they aren’t.
    The commercials are deceptive so do your research.

    by Claudia — October 15, 2021

  10. I picked the plan I wanted for when I get sick, not for when I’m healthy and never considered using an advantage plan. My decision came down mainly to past experiences with the provider I chose for my supplement. Traditional Medicare supplement plans are required to provide the same services, making comparisons easy. With advantage plans, variations in services and possibly dozens of plans to chose from, it is difficult to make a comparison. Possible yearly benefit changes to advantage plans adds to the confusion. The sales pitch that advantage plans push about $0 premiums is very deceptive since you still continue, in most cases, to pay your Medicare Part B premium of $148.50 which is assigned to the private insurer.

    One item that I never see discussed concerning advantage plans is the amount the insurance company gets every month from the taxpayer. Surely no one thinks they are getting all that coverage for $148.50 or $0 per month. In my county for instance in 2021 advantage plans received between $914 and $953 every month for each person they covered. The highest rate is Nome, AK. at $1550-$1667 month. As Roberta said the compensation plan for agents selling plans is less than transparent.

    by Mike — October 15, 2021

  11. I used Boomer Benefits. They researched the various plans and came up with AARP Unitedhealth supplement as the best for us.

    by Tom — October 16, 2021

  12. Does anyone have high deductible plan G and if so, do you like it?

    by Beebs — October 17, 2021

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