There are many variables to consider as you plan for and move into retirement. One of the most important is how you will pay for your healthcare expenses, and for most people, that includes navigating the world of Medicare.
To help simplify things a bit, here’s a summary of the multiple Medicare plans available and the various enrollment periods to take note of. Already enrolled? Now is an ideal time to reassess your coverage to ensure it’s still the best fit.
The Four Parts of Medicare
Medicare coverage is divided into 4 parts and each part has different coverage levels:
- Medicare Part A: Also known as hospital insurance, Medicare Part A covers inpatient hospital care and some nursing care coverage. If you or your spouse paid Medicare payroll taxes during your working years for at least 10 years, Part A is free for you. If you didn’t, you can still get coverage by paying a monthly premium.
- Medicare Part B: Part B is medical insurance coverage for some medical conditions and preventative care, including doctor visits and other outpatient services. You will pay a monthly premium for Part B coverage. Together, Parts A and B are known as Original Medicare.
- Medicare Part C: Known as Medicare Advantage Plan, this is an alternative to Original Medicare that is offered through Medicare-approved private companies. This plan bundles Part A and Part B and often includes Part D as well. Medicare Advantage plans also often cover additional services not covered by Part A, Part B, or Part D, including vision, hearing, and dental visits.
- Medicare Part D: This is an optional private insurance add-on that includes drug coverage. Not to make things even more confusing, but Part D has a late enrollment penalty. Even if you don’t need prescription coverage when you are first eligible for Medicare, enroll in the plan to avoid extra long-term costs.
Your Open Enrollment Options
Keep in mind that open enrollment is not for those who have not yet enrolled in Medicare. If that’s you, your initial enrollment period is based on your birthday, not a set date on a calendar. You need to sign up for coverage during the window of time that starts three months before the month of your 65th birthday and ends at the end of the third month after, for a total of seven months.
The open enrollment period affects each part separately. Here’s what you can do with your Medicare coverage:
- If you have Medicare Parts A & B,you can switch to Part C.
- If you have Medicare Part C, you can switch back to Original Medicare or change to a different Medicare Advantage Plan.
- If you have Part D, you can switch to a different Part D plan or drop your prescription drug plan.
You can also use this time to enroll in Part C and Part D for the first time.
When Can I Make These Changes?
This year, Medicare open enrollment began on October 15th and remains open through December 7th. The decisions you make during this period will affect your 2022 Medicare coverage.
Don’t get this confused with the Medicare Advantage open enrollment period that occurs from January 1st to March 31st, where those with Part C can change to a different Part C plan or switch to Parts A and B. Any other changes need to happen in the October-December enrollment period.
Let’s Discuss Your Medicare Planning
Yes, choosing the right Medicare plan can be a complicated endeavor. But choosing the wrong plan could negatively impact your wealth management strategy. The bottom line is that taking your time to shop around for the right plan will benefit your health and medical needs and your pocketbook.
Keep in mind that you don’t have to navigate this process on your own. We are here to help you reassess which plan will work best for you. Call our office at (443) 837-2520 or email my executive assistant, Talia Grover, at firstname.lastname@example.org to set up a complimentary consultation.
Brion Harris is the CEO, founder, and managing partner of Premier Planning Group, an independent financial firm specializing in working with pre-retirees and retirees, helping them create customized wealth preservation and retirement distribution strategies. With over 20 years of experience, Brion has developed deep knowledge and skill in helping his clients simplify their finances and find confidence in their financial future. Brion and the Premier Planning team are known for their unparalleled client service and their dedication to building long-lasting relationships with their clients. As a result, Brion has been the recipient of the #1 Advisor Leadership Award* at Summit for seven years running and has a reputation as one of the top retirement advisors in the business.
Brion is a proud 20-year resident of the Annapolis community, where he resides with his wife, Elizabeth, their three children, Addison, Jay, and Scarlett, and their two dogs, Pepper and Coco. When he’s not working, you can find him boating, skiing, traveling, and enjoying good food and music with his family. If you want to learn more about Brion, connect with him on LinkedIn.
*The #1 Advisor and Leadership award is based on production data and is awarded by the Summit Financial Networks region of Cetera Advisor Networks LLC. Brion Harris received the award in 2019, 2020, and 2021. This award is not a guarantee of future investment success. This recognition should not be construed as an endorsement of the advisor by any client.
The #1 Advisor and Leadership award was based on production data while at Summit Brokerage Services, Inc. Brion Harris received the award in 2015, 2016, 2017, and 2018. This award is not a guarantee of future investment success. This recognition should not be construed as an endorsement of the advisor by any client.