Medicare Open Enrollment 2024 – Tips For Seniors

Medicare Open Enrollment 2024The most important opportunity for seniors on Medicare! The Medicare open enrollment period 2024 (or Annual Enrollment Period) runs from October 15 to December 7 (2023).

Here’s why we refer to this as ‘the most important opportunity’. It can be a chance to change or switch plans for better coverage. Or, to save money in 2024. Maybe it’s a chance to get some of those free benefits you hear advertised on TV. Like dental or vision benefits.

The American Association for Medicare Supplement Insurance does NOT sell insurance or get any funds from insurance companies. Our goal is providing you with helpful, relevant information because Medicare can be confusing.

We believe seniors can benefit from speaking with at least one local Medicare insurance agent (or broker). This website hosts a directory listing independent professionals. Simply type in your Zip Code (see banner on the right). Instantly see agents in your area. No personal information is needed to access the directory. (Full disclosure: agents pay a nominal fee to be listed and support our educational efforts).

2024 Medicare Drug Plan Comparison Tool: Medicare drug plans change each year. After October 15th, every senior with stand-alone Medicare prescription drug plan coverage should run a comparison. The 2024 savings can be significant. The Association found a plan comparison tool that you can use without inserting any personal info (name, email). Avoid getting email spam. Click this link to access the 2024 Medicare drug plan comparison tool.

Open Enrollment Tips For Seniors With Medicare

Over the years, we’ve spoken to thousands of seniors with Medicare. Here are the key things we believe you should know. Within each section, we’ll provide tips to help you be a smarter consumer when it comes to your Medicare plan choices.

  1. Medicare is NATIONAL. But Medicare plan choices are LOCAL.
  2. Medicare Advantage offers millions great coverage. But it’s NOT Medicare!
  3. Plans change each year. Those changes can impact you.
  4. Depending on where you live, you can have 20 or more different Medicare Advantage plans to choose from.
  5. TV ads tout the free benefits and no premium cost. But there can be costs and important differences.
  6. We predict some significant changes will impact seniors with stand-alone Medicare drug plans.
  7. Seniors who switch Medicare drug plans tend to save between $200 and $700/year.
  8. There’s a difference between a Medicare Agent and a Medicare Broker.
  9. December 7th is the absolute last day to change anything during Open Enrollment.
  10. Waiting until the end of Open Enrollment is the biggest mistake many make.

Medicare Is NATIONAL. But Medicare plan choices are LOCAL.

Seniors watch a lot of cable television. How do we know? Because hundreds of millions of dollars are spent on TV ads urging the viewer to call for Medicare information. Sometimes the ads from different companies run back-to-back.

When you call one of the toll-free numbers, you are typically being directed to a Call Center. Inevitably you will speak with an insurance agent. Because only a licensed insurance agent can sell you Medicare coverage.

Here’s what many seniors don’t know. Some agents work for only one insurance company. Others (typically referred to as brokers) will represent multiple insurance plans. But they never represent them all. There are just too many.

For that reason, we believe that asking the following questions will help you when looking for Medicare plans.

  1. How many different Medicare insurance companies are you appointed with?
  2. And do you offer plans for just my local area, or across multiple states?
  3. I’d like to hear about the plan you recommend for me, can you tell me the name of Medicare insurance companies you offer?
  4. How long have you been licensed and selling Medicare insurance?

TIPS: Why are these important questions to ask?

Number 1. Appointed is insurance industry jargon that indicates a person is able to actually sell you that’s company’s plan. A person appointed with only one company is (guess what) going to recommend that company. Some agents are actually referred to as brokers. Generally they can sell plans from multiple insurers. But, even then, they may NOT represent them all. TIP: Find this out!

#2. Medicare plans are local. Plans available in your Zip Code may NOT be available elsewhere. There’s nothing wrong with someone who sells plans across an entire state, or even across the country. Call all the toll-free numbers you want. TIP: we believe also speaking to a local Medicare agent is well worth your time.

And, #3. UnitedHealthcare (AARP) may be the best plan in your area. Or, it could be a plan from Aetna, Mutual of Omaha, Cigna, Humana, Kaiser, etc. TIP: Get the person you are speaking with to share the plans he or she is able to sell you. Listen for the missing names. They might be a better option for you.

Finally, 4. Does experience matter? The Association loves new agents. And, many of them will work harder for you than seasoned veterans. Generally experience matters when it comes to Medicare insurance plans. TIP: A nice way to ask is, ‘can I ask you how many years you’ve been selling Medicare plans?’

Medicare Advantage Plans Are Great. But They Aren’t ‘Medicare’

Every year the number of Americans with Medicare Part C (Medicare Advantage, MA) coverage increases. Today more than half of Americans with Medicare are covered by an Advantage plan.

GOOD NEWS ABOUT MA: Medicare Advantage plans may include additional benefits like prescription drug coverage. Also care for vision, dental, hearing aids, and maybe even a free membership to the gym. Some may tout ‘zero premium’ costs.

BAD NEWS ABOUT MA PLANS: They are not a good fit for everyone. They may offer a limited network of covered doctors or medical practices you can see. There can be high out-of-pocket costs (don’t confuse zero premium with zero cost). Plans may not travel with you. And, the plans can change every year. That’s why Open Enrollment exists.

TIPS: How To Compare Medicare Advantage Plans

First, determine if a Medicare Advantage plan suits your health care needs, preferences and budget. This really requires a bit of thinking and time. Don’t just buy the product because the agent says it’s great.

Then, research which Medicare Advantage plan is best for you. Not all Medicare Advantage plans offer the same benefits or networks of care providers. Even the free benefits differ. Sure the dental plan may be free. But what dentists are included. Are more costly dental needs (like implants) covered? What are the limits?

TIP: Ask all of these questions. And, keep notes or ask for everything in writing. When it comes to insurance, only information provided in writing is legally binding. Verbal information is worth … well, nothing.