What to know as Medicare open enrollment begins Oct. 15



The annual open enrollment period for Medicare, Medicare Advantage plans, and Part D prescription drug coverage begins on Oct. 15 and ends on Dec. 7, 2020.

This is the only time during the year an individual can change their Medicare coverage. Whatever decisions seniors make will be set in stone for a full calendar year.

Mistakes are costly, especially for people who require multiple prescriptions. If seniors do not enroll in Medicare when they are eligible, there is a 10% increase in premiums for every year they failed to enroll (i.e., if they enroll in Part B or D three years late, the annual premium is increased by 30% for the rest of their lives).

“It’s very tempting to shrug your shoulders and go with the same plan you had last year. Don’t. Plans change, networks change, and doctor’s participation in networks change,” said Stephen J. Silverberg. “The plan you had last year might not work this year.”

Changes that can be made during the open enrollment period include switching from original Medicare, Part A (hospital costs), and Part B (medical coverage) to a private Medicare Advantage plan. Seniors can change from one Medicare Advantage plan to a different one. They can join or switch a prescription drug plan under Medicare Part D.

Medicare is challenging to navigate. Over the years, the attorneys at the law office of Stephen J. Silverberg have made a point of speaking with clients about their Medicare plan during meetings in the enrollment season. In recent years, they have noted that it has become even more complicated. This especially true of Medicare Part D.

Currently, there are over thirty different Part D plans available on Long Island.

The Center for Medicare and Medicaid Service, the federal agency which runs the programs, introduced the Medicare Plan Finder to assist seniors in August 2019. Unfortunately, the Finder had numerous technical glitches and incorrect information; many seniors could not access the Finder.

It proved a hardship to seniors. There were reports of Inflated costs and higher premiums. Complaints came from Medicare enrollees, consumer advocates, U.S. Senators, state insurance commissioners, and even the insurance brokers who sell these plans.

“We are attorneys. We are not an insurance agency or broker and sell no product. Our review is impartial,” explained Mr. Silverberg. “We want to help seniors avoid mistakes. Medicare is confusing, and we are pleased to help.”

Three important points for seniors:

1 – Know your plan. Look for a piece of mail from Medicare, “Annual Notice of Change.” This letter will have information about changes to coverage and costs, including premiums, deductibles, and co-pays. If you do not participate in Medicare, you will not receive the letter.

2 – Gather up all of your medical expenses from the last year and a list of the doctors you see regularly and the medications you take. If you use a single pharmacy, they will gladly give you a printed list. You’ll need that to figure out which one will be best for you in 2021.

3 – Your modified adjusted gross income (“MAGI”) from two years ago determines your premiums for Medicare Part B. MAGI includes capital gains, Social Security, and required minimum distributions from retirement funds and 401(k) plans. Your 2019 income determines the premium you will pay in 2021. It is too late to do much about that now, but if you can curtail income in 2020, you may reduce Medicare costs.

We invite you to call our office and request a free consultation to discuss your Medicare coverage. Call our office at 516-307-1236.

Stephen J. Silverberg

To help seniors in making an informed decision about their Medicare coverage, the Law Office of Stephen J. Silverberg, PC is offering complimentary consultations by phone, video conference, or in office.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here