Avoiding Medicare Enrollment Road Bumps

Tips for enrolling in a Medicare Part D plan

Updated on: October 30, 2018

Originally posted on: September 21, 2018
The Roadmap for Medicare staff specialize in all topics related to Medicare Part D, choosing a Medicare plan, and making smart health decisions in retirement.

Key Dates for Medicare Part D Annual Enrollment Period

Plan Information Available:

October 1

Enrollment Begins:

October 15

Enrollment Ends:

December 7

Note: The late enrollment penalty is 1% of the national average premium for every month you were without Part D prescription drug coverage or other creditable prescription drug coverage following your initial enrollment period, or if you had a break in creditable prescription drug coverage of 63 or more consecutive days. Creditable prescription drug coverage (for example, from an employer or union) means that it is expected to pay, on average, as much as Medicare’s standard prescription drug coverage. You will pay this late enrollment penalty for as long as you have Part D coverage.

Enrolling in a Medicare Part D prescription drug plan (PDP) is an important process that requires time and research, but it shouldn’t be a difficult one if you’re prepared well in advance for any potential bumps in the road. Unfortunately, nine in 10 people wait until the last minute to select a plan.

Don’t procrastinate! Getting a jump-start on your research will give you the time you need to compare plans thoroughly, and make the decision that’s right for you. Even if you currently have a Part D plan, it’s important to review your plan details every year to make sure it’s still the best choice. Costs and coverage can change from year to year, and so can your medication needs. To learn more about four simple rules of the road to keep in mind as you do your research, please watch this video.

Navigating Through Your Medicare Options

Researching all of the coverage options and comparing Part D prescription drug plans can be overwhelming, which is why many people delay making a decision or avoid switching plans each year. However, there are many resources to help you with your selection process. Contacting plans to talk with an advisor can be extremely valuable as you make your decision. It is also a great way to test how responsive customer service is to your needs. This can be a good indicator of how the plan will treat you in the future. Speaking with an insurance agent or broker can also help with the selection process. If you are losing employer-provided prescription drug coverage, your employer may make these services available to you.

Here are Some tips to Consider Before Getting on the Phone with a Medicare Advisor or Broker:

  • Create a checklist of the questions you need answered, and be sure you get all the information you need before hanging up.
  • Call well in advance of the enrollment deadline to avoid long wait times.
  • Before the call, make a list of all of your medications and your other medical expenses. Also have your red, white and blue Medicare ID card handy, and, if you are losing employer-provided coverage, your employer’s information as well.

Start Your Journey Early

Whether you’re considering switching plans or choosing for the first time, you can begin learning about next year’s Medicare Part D plans starting October 1. This is when detailed information about individual plans becomes available. The annual enrollment period (when you can actually sign up for a plan) begins October 15 and ends December 7 each year. If you turn 65 this year, however, you have an initial enrollment period that lasts 7 months. You can enroll 3 months prior to your birth month, the month of your birth, and up to 3 months following your birth month. Getting through early will save you time and aggravation, and can help you avoid overpaying or being under-covered because you waited until the last minute. That way, if you have questions or concerns, you’ll have plenty of time to get the help you require.