MONTGOMERY, Ala. – Medicare’s Open Enrollment is rapidly approaching, and now is the time to prepare. Open Enrollment begins Oct. 15 and runs through Dec. 7. During this time, changes may be made to various aspects of Medicare Advantage and Part D drug coverage.
Medicare enrollees receive an Annual Notice of Change (ANOC) letter from their insurance companies each September to let them know what changes may affect their plan for the following year. Premiums can increase, provider coverage can change, dental premiums may change and there may be changes to which prescription drugs are covered under current plans.
“Just as your health needs may change from year to year, so do Medicare plan costs and coverage,” said Alabama Department of Senior Services (ADSS) Commissioner Jean Brown. “I urge everyone who is on Medicare to take time now to prepare for the Open Enrollment period by researching their coverage.”
Brown said ADSS and the Alabama State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP) are available to help.
During the annual enrollment period participants may:
- Drop a Medicare Advantage Plan
- Cancel their Part D plan
- Enroll in a Part D plan
- Change from one Medicare Advantage plan to a different one
- Change from Medicare to a Medicare Advantage plan
- Change from one Part D prescription drug plan to another
Any changes made during Open Enrollment will take effect Jan. 1, 2023.
In 2021, there were more than 1 million Medicare beneficiaries in Alabama enrolled in both Medicare Part A and Part B. There were 218,784 individuals enrolled who are younger than 65, many of whom require assistance and counseling regarding their benefits and plans. Alabama SHIP educated or counseled over 48,000 Alabama Medicare recipients in 2021, Brown said.
“Through Alabama SHIP, certified counselors and volunteers are committed to helping Medicare beneficiaries make informed choices regarding health benefits at no charge to Medicare recipients,” Brown said. “Counselors and volunteers are not affiliated with an insurance company and will not attempt to sell insurance to Medicare beneficiaries.”
An online tool that can help during Medicare Open Enrollment is the Medicare Planfinder at www.Medicare.gov/find-a-plan. It takes users step-by-step through available Medicare Advantage and Part D prescription drug plans while taking prescription drug costs into consideration. Registration with the website is not required to use the Planfinder tool. However, Medicare recipients can safely enter their Medicare number in the tool to view their current plan enrollment information and specific plan costs. It can help compare plans specific costs. Alabama SHIP counselors and volunteers are available to help compare plans and assist with the Planfinder Tool.
Local SHIP counselors can be reached at 1-800-243-5463 or on the ADSS website at www.AlabamaAgeline.gov/helpservices.
ADSS is a cabinet-level state agency that administers programs for senior citizens, people with disabilities, and caregivers. Governor Kay Ivey appointed Brown to serve as the Commissioner of the Department of Senior Services in 2019.