Consumers know it’s fall when stores start offering Halloween candy and flu shots — and airwaves and mailboxes are filled with advertisements for Medicare options.
It’s annual open enrollment time again for the 65 million Americans covered by Medicare, the federal health program for older people and some people with disabilities.
From Oct. 15 to Dec. 7, enrollees in either the traditional program or Medicare Advantage plans, which are offered by private insurers, can change their coverage. (First-time enrollees generally sign up within a few months of their 65th birthday, whether that’s during open enrollment season or not.)
There are a few new features for 2024, including a lower out-of-pocket cost limit for some patients taking expensive drugs.
No matter what, experts say, it’s a good idea for beneficiaries to examine their current coverage because health and drug plans may have made changes — including to the pharmacies or medical providers in their networks and how much prescriptions cost.
“The advice is to check, check, and double-check,” said Bonnie Burns, a consultant with California Health Advocates, a nonprofit Medicare advocacy program.
But as anyone in the program or who helps friends or relatives with coverage decisions knows, it is complicated.
Here are a few things to keep in mind.
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