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If your 65th birthday is in fall, check this out.

If you're planning to enroll in Medicare during the last few months of the year, either because you are turning 65 or retiring, you have some extra work to do. The Medicare Advantage or prescription drug plan you choose at the time of enrollment will be in effect through the end of the year. On January 1, the new version of the plan will become effective. There can be changes in the medical plan, such as deductibles, copayments, coinsurance, and the network. Besides the out-of-pocket expenses for the drug plan, the formulary, tiers of medications, and coverage rules can change.

Jason turned 65 on November 20. His Medicare drug plan took effect November 1. He received two packets in the mail, one with the new plan materials and the second with information about changes in the plan. He didn't think he had to pay attention to the changes so soon after starting the plan but he is very glad he did. He discovered that his new drug plan would not cover the brand-name drug for his arthritis. He was able to enroll in a different plan. Had he not caught that change, he would have had to pay for the medication, about $7,500.

What should you do? Pick the plan that best meets your needs and enroll in that.  Then, during the Open Enrollment Period (October 15-December 7), turn right around and check out the next year’s version. You can do that with the Medicare Plan Finder. If you don’t like what you find, use the Plan Finder to check out other plans. When you find one that meets your needs, enroll in that. The new plan will take effect January 1. (Enrollment in the new plan will discontinue the other plan automatically.)

Last updated: 08-28-2018