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The 2017 open enrollment period for Medicare ends Dec. 7.
That means current Medicare beneficiaries have until next Wednesday to review Medicare health and prescription drug coverage for 2017 and — if they wish — to change that coverage.
Note that Medicare health coverage is also referred to as Medicare Part C or Medicare Advantage. Medicare drug coverage is also referred to as Medicare Part D.
David Lipschutz, a lawyer with the nonprofit Center for Medicare Advocacy, tells U.S. News & World Report that Medicare Advantage Plans and Medicare Part D plans change up their benefits, cost-sharing, provider networks and monthly premiums every year.
He goes on to explain:
“It’s incumbent upon individuals to take a look at what they have now and how that plan might be changing next year. If that doesn’t meet their needs, they’d be well-served to shop around.”
Here are the basic steps to shopping around:
- Before you start reviewing your coverage, gather key information such as a copy of “Medicare & You 2017,” which is the official Medicare handbook. Also, grab your current plan’s annual notice of change, or ANOC. The ANOC spells out any changes in your current plan’s coverage, costs or service area for 2017.
- If you don’t know what coverage you currently have, use Medicare’s “Check Your Enrollment” tool to find out.
- Consult the Medicare Plan Finder, a free tool that will help you view and compare all 2017 plans available to you based on your location and other personal information you can provide. It will in turn help you decide on a plan for 2017.
If you decide to change your coverage for 2017, the Medicare Plan Finder can also help you with that process.
Know that you aren’t required to make any changes, however. If you decide you don’t want to change anything for 2017, you don’t have to do anything.
Do you plan to change your Medicare coverage during this open enrollment period? Let us know why in a comment below or over on our Facebook page.