Given that Medicare can seem like a confusing web of options, it's no wonder that many consumers rely on licensed professionals for help.
If you're among those who turn to an agent or broker, it's worthwhile making sure the person has evaluated all of your 2019 options during Medicare's open enrollment period, which ends Dec. 7. With plans changing from year to year and new ones available in many areas, there could be a better choice out there for you both in terms of cost and coverage.
Before Medicare's annual fall window closes, you can:
· Switch to an Advantage Plan (Part C) from original Medicare (Part A hospital coverage and Part B outpatient coverage);
· Switch to original Medicare from an Advantage Plan;
· Move from one Advantage Plan to another;
· Move from one prescription drug plan (Part D) to another, or purchase one if you did not when first eligible (although you could face a penalty for late enrollment).
Of course, you aren't required to do anything — if you take no action, you'll automatically remain enrolled in your current plan, assuming it's still available.
If you work with an agent, it's important to keep in mind that the broker might not have a relationship with all insurance companies that offer plans in your area. This means the broker might not automatically take a look at every coverage choice.
"Brokers should speak to clients about all options, not just the plans they represent," said Elizabeth Gavino, founder of Lewin & Gavino in New York and an independent broker and general agent for Medicare plans. "If the client is going to save, say $1,000 a year, the broker should recommend the plan even if they can't help them directly."