Medicare's Open Enrollment Period is Here
by Ben Simiskey on Oct 28, 2020
For the more than 60 million Americans who are on Medicare, this time of year is an important one. Medicare Open Enrollment began on October 15 and runs through December 7. Beneficiaries can now review health and drug plans, compare coverage options and make changes to their healthcare coverage for 2021.
According to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, there has been:
A 34 percent decrease in average monthly premiums for Medicare Advantage plans since 2017. This is the lowest average monthly premium since 2007. Beneficiaries in some states, including Alabama, Nevada, Michigan and Kentucky, will see decreases of up to 50 percent in average Medicare Advantage premiums. More than 4,800 Medicare Advantage plans are offered for 2021, compared to about 2,700 in 2017. Similarly, more Medicare Part D plans are available, and the average basic Part D premium has dropped 12 percent since 2017. 
That drop in costs will be welcome news to millions of people – many of whom have been the hardest hit by the global pandemic.
That’s not all. Diabetics and others on insulin treatment are getting more good news. New for 2021: Medicare beneficiaries can join a prescription drug plan that will offer many types of insulin at a maximum copayment of $35 for a 30-day supply. More than 1,600 Medicare Advantage and Part D prescription drug plans are participating in the Part D Senior Savings Model for 2021. People who enroll in a participating plan could save up to an estimated $446 a year in out-of-pocket costs on insulin. 
If you’re looking to compare coverage options and shop for plans, you’ll want to spend some time with the Medicare Plan Finder. That’s where you can search and sort through your options. You can also now add up to 5 pharmacies at a time to find plans with the lowest drug costs for your needs. There are also new filters to make finding the right coverage easier. For example, if the new insulin pricing is important to you, you can select the “insulin savings” filter to find plans that can help you save on insulin costs. 
If you don’t already have an online Medicare account, consider creating one. You’ll be able to get suggestions based on prescriptions you’ve filled within the last 12 months. You can also modify your drug list and save changes. And you can compare the benefits and costs in your current plan to other plans available in your area.
If you’re having any issues or need help evaluating your options, you can get free, personalized counseling on Medicare options through the nonprofit State Health Insurance Assistance Program or by calling 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227).
TODAY’S ACTION ITEMS (Time involved: 30 minutes)
- Visit Medicare.gov. Scroll down the homepage and enter your email address to receive important news and updates.
- Create your online Medicare account, if you don’t have one already. You’ll need just a few basic pieces of data to do so, including your Medicare Number and your Part A coverage start date (both can be found on your red, white and blue Medicare card).
- Spend some time reviewing the 2021 Medicare & You handbook.
- Start using the Medicare Plan Finder site to evaluate your options for 2021.