Tuesday, September 5, 2017

IBM Medicare One Exchange Medicare Fall Enrollment Time for 2018

Medicare Fall Enrollment is about a month away.  It starts October 15 and ends at midnight Dec 7.
As usual, I strongly urge you to make sure your 2017 health insurance policy choices will provide the best coverage for you in 2018.  Insurance companies CHANGE their policies every year. They add or remove doctors.  Doctors quit accepting plans.  Drug costs change and/or some drugs will no longer be covered.  Companies must update All plan information on October 15th. There is no point checking before that day because companies wait until then to do it. Use the plan finder option on medicare.gov to determine which plan is best for you.
Also, a reminder for those of you who have Medicare supplemental insurance or medigaps, this enrollment period DOES NOT apply to that type of insurance.  Change windows for medigap insurance are determined by the state you live in and range from "never" to "whenever you want". Consult your state department of insurance to find out the rules.
If you have traditional or original Medicare, your action in October is to examine the prescription drug insurance plan (PDP) coverage for 2018.  If you bought the PDP through One Exchange to qualify for your HRA/FHA benefit, then look at the plans they offer to determine if there is a better plan available.  You might find it is cheaper to forego the HRA/FHA funds because the subset of plans they sell will cost you substantially more in copays versus having the funding.
Reminder, the set of insurance plans One Exchange sells are EXACTLY the same plans that are available to anyone on Medicare in your zip code but they don't sell ALL the plans that you could buy. They only sell the plans for which they get commission as an insurance agent.  It may actually happen that there is a better plan available in your zip code for your drug coverage not sold by One Exchange.  You have to weigh the benefit of staying with One Exchange and having funding from your HRA/FHA and IBM catastrophic drug coverage versus NOT using One Exchange because you might actually pay less out of pocket by using a non-One Exchange plan and fore-fitting the subsidy. If you face that situation, tell someone at One Exchange what is happening.  They might have an exception process.

If you have a Medicare Advantage (MA) plan that does not include prescription drug insurance then you have to look at both your MA plan and your PDP plan.  Make sure your MA doctor network is still giving you access to your providers.  If not, ask your provider what plans they will accept in 2018 as the first step to information gathering.  Then look to see if One Exchange sells that plan. Once again, if the MA plan is how you gain access to your HRA/FHA you have to make a decision over what takes priority.  Is it the doctors or the HRA/FHA money.
If you have a Medicare Advantage plan that does include prescription drug insurance (MAPD) you may have to switch to a different plan if there are drug coverage changes or if there are doctor changes. This is the hardest plan to change since it involves trying to find a better plan that includes both components and buying it through One Exchange. It might be, that you decide to revert to traditional Medicare with a supplemental policy.  BE CAREFUL because state rules apply.  You might not be able to get a supplemental policy.  Once again, you also need to decide if the money you get from your HRA/FHA is worth you sticking with an MAPD plan that does not meet your needs.
Take action in October!  It's important to your health!