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Insurance enrollment periods are stressful for everyone. With the multitude of changes that have happened in the last few years with Medicare, it’s no wonder that the open enrollment period can cause anxiety. But understanding the changes and what you must do as part of the annual enrollment period can help remove the stress from your yearly insurance election process.
When is Open Enrollment 2018 for Seniors in PA?
The open enrollment period for coverage, also known as the Annual Election Period (AEP), in 2018 is from October 15th, 2017 to December 7th, 2018. These became the dates for the AEP in 2011 and have been ever since. There is no expectation that they will change in the foreseeable future, so if you’re a Medicare participant age 65 an up it’s worth writing those dates down.
It’s worth noting that some changes to a Medicare Advantage plan, original Medicare, and even Part D (prescription drug) can occur after these dates, there are a number of restrictions and special need circumstances that must apply for you to do so. Ideally, if you know that you will be participating in a plan in 2018, you should make your elections during the AEP.
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What Can I Do During the AEP in Pennsylvania?
During the election period is when you have the most flexibility to make changes to your plan. Common changes that occur during this period are:
- Switches from original Medicare to Medicare Advantage, or from Advantage to original
- New enrollments for Part D
- Changes in plans for Medicare Advantage or Part D
Remember, enrolling in Medicare Advantage requires you to be enrolled in Part A and Part B, and there must be an Advantage plan in your area. The program offer may be different depending on where you live.
What if I Want to Keep the Same Plan?
If you are happy with your existing plan, you may not want to make any changes. If that’s the case, you will be auto-enrolled in your current plan for next year (assuming that the plan is still available in your area). If you are not happy with your current Medicare supplement insurance, we’d be happy to assist you.
However, it may be worth your time to spend a few minutes reviewing your plan, even if you don’t think you want to make a change. The reason for this is that providers are allowed to make changes to their plans every year, including changing premiums.
If your plan is being discontinued in your area, you can expect to receive a notice of non-renewal from your provider prior to October 15th. If that is the case, you must use the AEP to choose a new plan.
Are there Changes in 2018 That Will Affect Me?
There are several changes coming to Medicare in 2018.
New brackets for Part B for high incomes: Individuals making more than $85,001 a year, and couples making more than $170,001, are considered high income for the purposes of computing Medicare premiums. While the lower end of the high-income range won’t see changes, those making more than $160,000 as an individual or $320,000 as a married couple will be pushed into the higher premium bracket.
Part B premiums may change: In 2017, the standard premium for Part B was $134 a month, but the average paid was only $109. This was due to those on Social Security getting only a small cost of living increase, falling into the “hold harmless” provision. As a result, those not on Social Security saw the increase, but those on it did not. This year the cost of living increase is expected to be greater, which likely means that any changes in premium costs will be absorbed by the entire population, not just those not on Social Security. Contact us today if you have questions about your monthly premium, and we can answer your question.
Prescription “Donut Hole” will cost less: If you are one of the many recipients who reach the Part D “donut hole” in 2018, you’ll see better rates for your prescriptions than you have in the past. While the donut hole still exists, enrollees will only pay 35% for name brand and 44% for generic drugs in 2018. Those rates are down from 40% and 51%, respectively, in 2017. Even better news, it’s anticipated that the donut hole will close completely by 2020.
BGA Insurance Group has offices in Conshohocken and Allentown. Please contact us if you would like to setup a free consultation to review your current health insurance plan. We take any and all questions seriously. Wondering if a therapist accepts your coverage?
It might also be necessary to consult with a hospital doctor to determine your next course of action, in order to get durable medical advice.
15 Union Hill Rd, 2nd Floor
Conshohocken, PA 19428
5000 West Tilghman St., Suite 151
Allentown, PA 18104
Return to the BGA Insurance Group home page for more information on the annual enrollment period. Our services are always $0!