What to Look for This AEP

The Medicare fall open enrollment period, also called the annual election period (AEP) starts on October 15 and ends on December 7. During this time, current Medicare enrollees can review their plan selection and decide whether or not to change plans for the following year. During this year’s AEP, be on the look out for benefits that could help you stay healthy and on budget in the following year.

Medicare Enrollment Decisions

Medicare beneficiaries have two main choices:

  • Enroll in Original Medicare and a Medicare Part D prescription drug plan. Medicare enrollees can also enroll in a Medicare Supplement plan to pick up some of the out-of-pocket costs associated with Original Medicare.
  • Enroll in a Medicare Advantage plan. Most Medicare Advantage plans include prescription drug coverage, but if yours doesn’t, you can also enroll in a Medicare Part D plan.

Each option comes with pros and cons. One of the advantages of Medicare Advantage, however, is the availability of additional benefits not covered under Original Medicare.

Common Benefits Included in Medicare Advantage

Medicare Advantage plans are offered by private insurance companies, and the benefits and costs can vary from plan to plan.

Some of the benefits that you might commonly find in Medicare Advantage plans include dental, vision and hearing. These benefits are not typically covered under Original Medicare.

Medicare Advantage plans may also cover things like acupuncture and chiropractic care. Original Medicare recently began covering acupuncture for chronic lower back pain, and some chiropractic care is also covered, but the benefits found in some Medicare Advantage plans may be more robust.

Other benefits may be available, too. If there’s something you’re interested in, check to see if it’s covered by any plans in your area.

Telemedicine Benefits

The idea of getting care from the comfort of one’s home is very appealing to many people. New telemedicine benefits make this possible for Medicare enrollees.

Medicare expanded telemedicine benefits in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. This expansion was designed to be temporary, but recent proposals could make it permanent.

Meanwhile, rule changes have already allowed Medicare Advantage plans to start offering regular telemedicine benefits. If this option sounds right for you, look for these benefits in plans in your area.

Non-Medical Benefits

In recent years, Medicare Advantage plans have been allowed to expand their benefits to include certain non-medical benefits. These benefits may include services like adult day care, as well as meal delivery, transportation and other benefits that help with chronic conditions.

These changes are still relatively recent, so look for new benefit offerings in your area.

Prescription Benefits

Whether your getting prescription coverage through a Medicare Advantage plan or a Medicare Part D plan, you should check the drug formulary to make sure the prescriptions you take are covered at an affordable price.

In 2021, many plans will start offering $35 insulin copays. If you have diabetes and take insulin, look for these plans.