By Kyle Louvar, CFP®, AIF®
As the fall season approaches, it brings with it an important period for millions of Americans: Medicare Open Enrollment. This annual window, running from October 15th to December 7th, is a pivotal time for Medicare beneficiaries to review their coverage, explore new options, and make informed decisions about their healthcare plans.
Whether you’re a seasoned Medicare participant or a newcomer to the program, understanding the ins and outs of open enrollment can significantly impact your access to quality healthcare and financial confidence.
Let’s get started.
The Four Parts of Medicare
Medicare coverage is divided into 4 parts, each with a different coverage level:
- Medicare Part A: Also known as hospital insurance, Medicare Part A covers inpatient hospital care and some nursing care coverage. If you or your spouse paid Medicare payroll taxes during your working years for at least 10 years, Part A is free for you. If you didn’t, you can still get coverage by paying a monthly premium.
- Medicare Part B: Part B is medical insurance coverage for some medical conditions and preventative care, including doctor visits and other outpatient services. You will pay a monthly premium for Part B coverage. Together, Parts A and B are known as Original Medicare.
- Medicare Part C: Known as Medicare Advantage Plan, this is an alternative to Original Medicare that is offered through Medicare-approved private companies. This plan bundles Part A and Part B and often includes Part D as well. Medicare Advantage plans also often cover additional services not covered by Part A, Part B, or Part D, including vision, hearing, and dental visits.
- Medicare Part D: This optional private insurance add-on includes drug coverage. Not to make things even more confusing, but Part D has a late enrollment penalty. Even if you don’t need prescription coverage when you are first eligible for Medicare, enroll in the plan to avoid extra long-term costs.
Your Open Enrollment Options
Keep in mind that open enrollment is not for those who have not yet enrolled in Medicare. If that’s you, your initial enrollment period is based upon your birthday, not a set date on a calendar. You need to sign up for coverage during the window of time that starts three months before the month of your 65th birthday and ends at the end of the third month after, for a total of seven months.
The open enrollment period affects each part separately. Here’s what you can do with your Medicare coverage:
- If you have Medicare Parts A & B, you can switch to Part C.
- If you have Medicare Part C, you can switch back to Original Medicare or change to a different Medicare Advantage Plan.
- If you have Part D, you can switch to a different Part D plan or drop your prescription drug plan.
You can also use this time to enroll in Part C and Part D for the first time.
When Can I Make These Changes?
Medicare open enrollment is from October 15th through December 7th each year. Making changes to your plan during this time provides the most flexibility and will affect your 2024 Medicare coverage.
Don’t get this confused with the Medicare Advantage open enrollment period that occurs from January 1st to March 31st, where those with Part C can change to a different Part C plan or switch to Parts A and B. Any other changes need to happen in the October-December enrollment period.
Overwhelmed? We Can Help.
With the Medicare Open Enrollment period just around the corner, it’s essential to be proactive and well-informed about your healthcare options and to take the time to assess your needs.
At Guided Capital Wealth Management, we can help you with Medicare Open Enrollment and more to help you create a dynamic plan that assists you in reaching your financial potential and keeping you on track toward your goals. Schedule a FIT meeting by contacting our team at (832) 975-0711 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org to learn if we are the right people to guide you on your financial journey.
Kyle is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ professional and holds the Accredited Investment Fiduciary® certification. Kyle Louvar is the CEO and Wealth Management Advisor for Guided Capital Wealth Management, a fiduciary financial advisory firm offering fee-based advice, guidance, and education. After seeing the impact that the 2008 financial crisis had on families, Kyle became fully committed to helping his clients develop a financial plan that changes as their lives unfold and their needs evolve. Spending nine years working for one of the largest brokerage firms on Wall Street, Kyle holds a high value for process, expertise, objective advice, and customized solutions. His goal is to help his clients experience confidence in their financial future through a disciplined process of financial planning, investment management, and sound financial decision-making.
Kyle graduated from New Mexico State University, where he was a proud 4-year letterman in football for the Aggies and where he’s sat as an NMSU Foundation board member since 2015. When not helping his clients, Kyle enjoys spending time with his wife, Nicole, and their two daughters. You can often find him coaching his daughters’ softball teams, playing golf, cooking, and traveling. To learn more about Kyle, connect with him on LinkedIn.