Its that time of the year again the time when you pull out your prescriptions and write down the names, dosages, and quantities so that you can compare Prescription Drug Plans in the best manner possible. That’s right its the 2014 Annual Election Period! This is the time of the year which you can compare and change prescription drug plans (Part D) or Medicare Advantage plans (Part C).
2014 Annual Election Period Basics
There are several key components of the 2014 Annual Election Period: time frame, eligibility, comparing options, and understanding limitations.
Annual Election Period Time Frame & Eligibility
Basically the annual election period which is commonly referred to as the “Open Enrollment Period” is from October 15th – December 7th of each year. This is the only time frame you can enroll, change or drop a Part C or D plan unless there is a Special Election Period which you meet. This would be moving out of the plan’s service area, losing Medicaid benefits, or something along these lines.
If you do not make a decision during the 2014 Annual Election Period you are choosing to stay in the same plan you currently have. However, if you decide to change then your plan will go into effect January 1, 2014.
To enroll in a prescription drug plan you must be enrolled in Medicare Part A. To enroll in a Medicare Advantage Plan you must be enrolled or entitled to Part A and enrolled in Medicare Part B. Remember that Part D just covers prescription drug benefits, while Medicare Part C is a health plan which may or may not cover your prescriptions.
Comparing Options and Understanding Limitations
We recommend our clients to compare their options each year during the AEP. MWG Senior Services suggests this because plan benefits change each year! This means that your $20 per month Part D plan with no deductible could be $50 with a $310 deductible in 2014! If you do not evaluate your options you could be stuck with major changes in your plan.
What is the best way to compare plans during the 2014 Annual Election Period? The best way is to write down your prescriptions and have someone who has completed AHIP training walk you through the Medicare.gov website. These plans can be difficult to evaluate and if you do not have a qualified advisor you may miss a key component of the plan. Ex: your plan may show you that all the prescriptions are covered, but you did not realize that it was pulling generics as a search options and most of your brand name drugs are not covered.
If you have more questions or need help comparing prescription drug plans feel free to call MWG Senior Services at 1-877-936-2991.