The open enrollment period for Medicare has changed. Last year, the sign-up period ran from November 15th through December 31st. This year, open enrollment began on October 15th and runs through December 7th.
The plans that are available are now increasingly complex -- so much so that many retirees hire consultants to help them pick the best plan. That may seem drastic but with health care expenses in retirement estimated to range from $150,000 to over $230,000 it pays to do your homework when selecting a Medicare plan.
When selecting a plan, you should carefully scrutinize the drugs that you take and be sure to go with a plan that covers that drug. For example, if you take Celebrex but your plan doesn't cover that exact drug, you may be on the hook for over $1,000 per year in out of pocket costs.
Also, even if you are happy with the plan you are on now, you still need to do some checking because doctors and hospitals can be dropped or added from a plan and you want to be sure that a doctor you are seeing this year will be in the plan next year.
If you feel you need help with these decisions,there are firms that will consult with you. Some charge a monthly fee to evaluate your choices and help manage payments while others charge a flat fee of several hundred dollars to help you find the best plan. You can probably do all the investigative work yourself but expect it to take tens of hours of background work. A great free resource is the Medicare Rights Center -- www.medicareinteractive.org
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