Open Enrollment is gone but the good news is there still are opportunities out there for you.
If you are unhappy with your Medicare Advantage plan or have found out your doctor or hospital is no longer in the network you can switch back to original Medicare from the Advantage plan. Medicare has a special disenrollment period that allows people to change back to regular Medicare and elect a drug plan from Jan. 1 through Feb. 14th.
This change can be more affordable than you might have imagined. Many supplement companies offer a high deductible plan F Medicare Supplement that won't break the bank. All supplements are filed with the state of Florida and not with the federal government. To get information about these plans don't call Medicare but reach out to the Florida Department of Insurance Services Consumer Help Line at 1-877-693-5236 for carrier information. Most plans in Florida use an entry age rating system, meaning you do not get age related premium increases but you do receive increases caused by medical inflation or changes in Medicare. You also can contact the Department of Elder Affairs and speak to one of the representatives of the SHINE program (Serving the Health Insurance Needs of Elders, at 1-800-963-5337).
Another change you can make any time of the year if you qualify is to change your Medicare Supplement plan. You can trade your comprehensive plan for something more affordable or you can beef up your coverage if you foresee a bumpy road ahead the next year.
Remember that you will have to qualify under the supplement carrier's health questions if you are outside of your supplement's initial guarantee period when you turn age 65 or when you get your Part B of Medicare. A good agent familiar with the different choices can be a great help for these types of situations.
Lastly if you are on an Advantage plan and are dissatisfied, most plans allow you to change your doctor at least once a month. A new friendly office staff and physician might give you a fresh start for the new year.
Betsy Vipond is CEO of The Senior Health Advisor and has been in insurance for more than 33 years. She is a board member of Tampa Bay Health Underwriters, part of the National Association of Health Underwriters and specializes in Medicare products. Contact her at (800) 603-0901.