How do I know what doctors I can see?
If you have a Medicare Advantage Plan, you must use the doctors and other providers in your network. Be sure and check with your doctor before your visit to ensure that they accept your plan. With some Private Fee for Service plans your doctor may decide they can no longer see you, even if they have treated you in the past.
With a Medicare Supplement Plan, you can see any doctor that takes Medicare anywhere in the country.
You can begin enrolling for Medicare during your Initial Enrollment Period. This period begins three months before you turn 65, includes your birth month, and ends three months after you turn 65. If you fail to enroll during this initial period you may be forced to pay a higher premium later.
Individuals who are still working or have insurance through their spouse’s employer may qualify for a Special Enrollment Period after their 65th birthday.
The annual enrollment period is from October 15th through December 7th for an effective date of January 1st of the following year. This applies to joining, switching, or dropping Medicare Advantage plans and Part D Prescription Drug plans. There is also a special election period between Jan. 1 and March 31 if for some reason your circumstances require a change in plan or carrier.
You can only change Medicare Advantage plans during the annual enrollment period, or during a special enrollment period (for example, if you have just moved to a new area, you have lost employer coverage, or you are newly enrolling in Medicare).
“The new “OEP” (Open Enrollment Period) from January 1st to March 31st allows you to do the following :
- Drop a Medicare Advantage plan & go back to Original Medicare and add a Part D plan if you wish
- Switch Medicare Advantage plans
It is highly encouraged that you seek the help of a Medicare Professional before making changes in OEP
You can enroll in or switch to a Medicare Supplement plan any time.
If you have coverage through the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and are eligible for Medicare, you’re not required to enroll. But you may have good reasons to do so. The VA itself strongly recommends that veterans with VA health care also enroll in Medicare Parts A and B as soon as they become eligible (unless they have group insurance from a current employer).*
- VA health coverage isn’t set in stone and isn’t the same for everyone. The VA assigns enrollees to different priority levels according to various factors, such as income and whether they have any medical condition that derives from their military service. If federal funding for VA health care drops or doesn’t keep pace with costs, some vets in the lower priority groups may lose VA coverage entirely.
- Having both Medicare and VA benefits greatly widens your coverage. VA coverage pays for medical services if you go to a VA hospital or doctor. If you need to go elsewhere, you’ll probably end up having to pay the full cost yourself, even in emergencies. With Medicare, you’re covered if you need to go to a non-VA provider. This is an especially important point to consider if you live some distance from the nearest VA facility.
- You may be subject to penalties in the future. At some point, when you’re well past 65, you might lose VA coverage, or otherwise decide that you need Medicare. If you are not already signed up for Part B (and don’t have insurance through an employer or other source), you’ll likely have to wait a while for coverage, and you could be liable for late penalties that are permanently added to your Part B premiums.
Medicare Annual Enrollment Period: October 15th – December 7th