Wednesday, December 1, 2021

Choice & Options

Ask the CFP

“The aim of education should be to teach us how to think, rather than what to think.” ~ James Beattie, 1735-1803, Scottish Poet 

QuestionI know Medicare open enrollment is always sometime in the fall. What are the exact dates, and what do I need to do?  

Answer: It would be easy for the important deadline for Medicare open enrollment to fall between the cracks with so much else taking place right now. Fall does mark the arrival of Medicare open enrollment, which is from October 15 to December 7 

Most US citizens become eligible for Medicare on the first day of the month in which they turn 65 years of age. Even if you’ve already enrolled, you can review your itinerary or coverage choices and change your selections. Enrollment scenarios include initial, special and general enrollment periods. Medicare open enrollment provides the opportunity to pair coverage with life’s changes providing you choices and options. 

During open enrollment, you can change from Original Medicare to a Medicare Advantage plan or vice versa, or switch from one Medicare Advantage plan to another. You can also join a Medicare Advantage or Medicare prescription drug plan for the first time or drop your drug coverage completely. The point is you’ve got options. 

This timeframe presents a great opportunity to make sure you’re getting the most from Medicare. You should compare your current plan to other plans in your area every year, in case one offers better health and/or drug coverage at lower prices or that better fits your needs. 

Reevaluate Your Needs 

The coverage provided by insurance companies often changes each year and could result in paying more on out of pocket healthcare expenses throughout the year. Here are some tips to help you get started. 

  • Ask important questions. Have your needs changed? Is your current coverage adequate? Is the cost of your current plan going up? Are there comparable, lower-cost plans available? 
  • Review the annual notice of change from your current plan provider. You should receive this in September. 
  • If you have a Medicare Advantage plan, make sure your doctor will still accept your plan next year. If your doctor is out of network, you must choose a new plan or pay higher out-of-pocket costs. 
  • Carefully review your prescription drug coverage and what those copayment and coinsurance costs are. 
  • If you switch from a Medicare Advantage plan to Original Medicare, you may want to join a standalone Part D plan to get Medicare drug coverage. 
  • Compare plans using the Medicare Plan Finder at 

Know the Risk 

If you decide to drop drug coverage, you can rejoin in the future. However, if you go 63 days or more in a row without other creditable prescription drug coverage: 

  • You’ll have to wait for an enrollment period to sign up for coverage. 
  • You may have to pay a late enrollment penalty. Learn more at 

Medicare can be complicated, but your advisor can help. He or she has assessment tools to help determine the right coverage if you are transitioning to Medicare or if you are updating current coverage. The choices are numerous and are driven by many factors including personal health, choice of doctors, financial considerations and even ZIP codes. 

Next Steps 

  • Mark the Medicare open enrollment dates on your calendar. 
  • Review the annual notice of change from your current plan provider. 
  • Set aside time with your advisor to assess your current coverage and make adjustments. 

Planning for healthcare expenses is part of the comprehensive goal planning process provided by CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNING Professionals. On average, Medicare pays only about 60% of medical costs and there is a cost for Medicare coverage. You’ll most likely have to pay premiums, deductibles and copays. Original Medicare does not cover dental, vision, hearing or long-term costs. The ability to pay for unexpected or routine medical care is part of the financial planning process. Preventative maintenance pays dividends; brush, floss, get plenty of exercise and incorporate healthcare coverage and expenses into your financial plan. Stay focused and plan accordingly. 

There is no guarantee that these statements, opinions or forecasts provided herein will prove to be correct. The opinions expressed are those of the writer as of September 15, 2020, but not necessarily those of Raymond James and Associates, and subject to change at any time. All information provided herein is for informational purposes only 

“Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards Inc. owns the certification marks CFP®, CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™, CFP® (with plaque design) and CFP® (with flame design) in the U.S., which it awards to individuals who successfully complete CFP Board’s initial and ongoing certification requirements.” This article provided by Darcie Guerin, CFP®, First Vice President, Investments & Branch Manager of Raymond James & Associates, Inc. Member New York Stock Exchange/SIPC 606 Bald Eagle Dr. Suite 401, Marco Island, FL 34145. She may be reached at 239389-1041, email Website:

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