Open enrollment for 2017 Medicare coverage runs until Dec. 7.
During this annual enrollment period, participants can make changes to the following:
- Switch from Original Medicare to Medicare Advantage, or vice versa.
- Switch from one Medicare Advantage plan to another, or from one Medicare Part D (prescription drug) plan to another.
- Those who didn’t enroll in a Medicare Part D plan when they were first eligible can do so during the general open enrollment, although a late enrollment penalty may apply.
Those who want to enroll in a Medicare Advantage plan must meet basic criteria.
- They must be enrolled in Medicare Part A and B.
- They must live in the plan’s service area.
- They cannot have end-stage renal disease (some exceptions apply).
Those who are already enrolled in a Medicare Part D prescription plan or a Medicare Advantage plan and don’t want to make changes to their coverage for 2017 don’t need to do anything during open enrollment. This assumes their current plan will still be available in 2017. If their plan is being discontinued and isn’t eligible for renewal, they will receive a non-renewal notice from their carrier prior to open enrollment. If they don’t, it means they can keep their plan without doing anything during open enrollment.
Benefits and premiums could be changing for 2017. It’s important for participants to double check to make sure their current plan is still the best available option.
Changes to be aware of for 2017 include:
Medicare recipients reaching the doughnut hole will benefit from better prescription drug discounts. The gap in prescription drug coverage starts when someone reaches the initial coverage limit ($3,700 in 2017) and ends when they have spent $4,950. In 2017, while in the doughnut hole, enrollees will pay 40 percent of the cost of brand name drugs and 51 percent of the cost of generic drugs. The Medicare Part D deductible will be $400 in 2017.
Medicare Part B premiums will increase for those who didn’t see an increase in 2016. For 2017, there’s expected to be a cost-of-living increase for Social Security, so the $121.80 per month Medicare Part B is expected to apply to all enrollees, with higher premiums for high-income enrollees.
Medicare Advantage plans continue to see changes. Most people will continue to have dozens of Medicare Advantage plans as well as Part D plans available to them. However, these providers can change the coverage options they offer from year to year, so it’s important to stay up to date. It’s important to carefully review information from plan providers because this will cover any possible changes.
Alton Memorial Hospital and OASIS sponsor the Illinois Senior Health Insurance Program office. This free and confidential service is available to any senior or person with disabilities who has questions or problems with Medicare. Call (800) 392-0936 to schedule a one-on-one appointment with a certified counselor.