Medicare Part D and Medicare Advantage have the annual enrollment period, during which you can enroll, disenroll or change plans.
This period comes earlier in 2011 – it starts October 15 and runs through December 7. Additionally, it is a couple of weeks shorter this year, meaning the companies, Medicare itself, etc. will have added pressure to process the same (and probably more with the onset of the Baby Boomers) enrollments in a shorter period of time. Because of this, it is highly advisable to get an early start on comparing plans and making any changes that you wish to make to your current coverage.
Medicare.gov, Medicare’s website, contains information about all of the Part D and Medicare Advantage plans. This allows you to compare the plans based on premiums, co-pays, etc. for your specific medications or medical needs. Medicare’s website claims that it will be updated with this new information on October 1. So, starting on that date, you can head to the site to compare these type of plans.
Keep in mind that this is just for the Medicare Advantage and Part D plans. Medigap, also called Medicare Supplements, do NOT have an annual enrollment period. Additionally, accurate premium information for these plans is not housed on the Medicare.gov site. Many people make the mistake of confusing the two types of plans (Medicare Advantage plans, which replace Medicare, and Medicare Supplements, which supplement Medicare); but, the two plans could not be any more different.
To get information about Medicare Supplement plans or comparisons for these plans, you can either contact all of the companies that do plans in your area or use an independent agency to compare the options. Many companies no longer give quotes over the phone or online and there are some restrictions on displaying this comparative information online.
For these reasons, it is advisable to use an independent agency to compare plans. This does not cost you anything (in fact, you are paying for it as part of your premiums whether you use it or not), and it can allow you to make an unbiased, complete comparison of the plans available to you. In doing so, you can make an informed choice. To get a Medicare Supplement quote by email, please visit our website or call us at 877.506.3378.