More than 572,000 Kansas residents receive health coverage through Medicare, and the time to review benefits is only days away. The program’s Fall Open Enrollment period, when you can make changes that take effect January 1 of the following year, occurs each year from October 15 through December 7.
“It’s important that Medicare beneficiaries make sure their current providers are still participating in their plan for 2024 and that the cost of any medications they need hasn’t increased,” KDADS Director of Medicare Programs Emily Blanch said. “Medicare beneficiaries can make changes to several aspects of their coverage, so it’s important to look at all the options again before you lock yourself in for another year. We encourage people to always take advantage of open enrollment because all of us have health care needs that change over time and Medicare plans change as well.”
By shopping available plans and comparing costs, beneficiaries may be able to find a Medicare health or drug plan with better coverage or a lower premium in 2024. Help is out there:
- The Medicare Plan Finder, an online tool that helps people compare pricing between Original Medicare, Medicare prescription drug plans, Medicare Advantage plans, and Medicare Supplement Insurance (Medigap) policies, will be updated with 2024 information by October 1, 2023.
- 1-800-MEDICARE is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, to provide help in English and Spanish as well as more than 200 additional languages.
- Senior Health Insurance Counseling for Kansas is a free program that offers Kansans unbiased assistance with questions about Medicare and other insurance issues. SHICK has counselors throughout the state to educate and assist the public in making informed decisions for each individual situation. This counseling services is free at l-800-860-5260.
During open enrollment, those currently enrolled may:
- Switch from original Medicare to a Medicare Advantage plan, or vice versa
- Switch from one Medicare Advantage plan to another, or from one Medicare Part D prescription drug plan to another
- If you didn’t enroll in a Medicare Part D plan when you were first eligible, you can do so during open enrollment, although a late enrollment penalty may apply
If you want to enroll in a Medicare Advantage plan, you must meet some basic criteria:
- You must be enrolled in Medicare Parts A and B
- You must live in the plan’s service area
If you’re already enrolled in a Medicare Part D prescription plan or a Medicare Advantage Plan and you don’t want to make changes to your coverage for 2024, you don’t need to do anything during open enrollment, assuming your current plan will still be available in 2024. If your plan is being discontinued and isn’t eligible for renewal, you will receive a non-renewal notice from your carrier prior to open enrollment.
Each year, there’s a Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment Period from January 1 through March 31. During this time, if you’re in a Medicare Advantage plan and want to change your health plan, you can switch to a different Medicare Advantage Plan with or without drug coverage or go back to original Medicare and, if needed, also join a Medicare Prescription Drug Plan.
Changes to be aware of for 2024 include:
- 21 Medicare prescription drug plans will be available with premiums varying from $0.50 to $106.70
- 77.81 percent of people with a stand-alone Medicare prescription drug plan have access to a plan with a lower premium than what they paid in 2023
- 92 Medicare Advantage plans are available in 2024, compared to 90 plans in 2023
- 100 percent of people with Medicare have access to a Medicare Advantage plan
- The average monthly Medicare Advantage plan premium changed from $7.42 in 2023 to $9.90 in 2024, representing a $2.48 change in average premium
- Through the Inflation Reduction Act, people with Medicare prescription drug coverage who fall into the catastrophic phase of the prescription drug benefit won’t have to pay anything out of pocket during that phase for covered Medicare prescription drugs
- There will be expanded eligibility for full benefits under the Extra Help program, meaning all Extra Help enrollees will pay no deductible, no premium, and benefit from fixed lower copayments for certain medications. Learn more about the Extra Help program, including eligibility criteria and how to apply
To help with Medicare costs, low-income seniors and adults with disabilities may qualify to receive financial assistance from a Medicare Savings Programs (MSPs). MSPs help millions of Americans access high-quality health care at a reduced cost, yet only about half of eligible people are enrolled. MSPs cover Medicare premiums and may also cover Medicare deductibles, coinsurance, and copayments if individuals meet the eligibility requirements in their state. Enrolling in an MSP offers relief from these Medicare costs, allowing people to spend money on other necessities like food, housing, or transportation.
The Low-Income Subsidy Program, also called Extra Help, is a Medicare program that helps qualifying individuals pay Part D premiums, deductibles, coinsurance, and other costs. Enrollees can save nearly $300 per year on average according to estimates. Up to three million seniors and people with disabilities could benefit from the Extra Help program but aren’t currently enrolled. Individuals who enroll in MSPs automatically qualify for help affording prescription drugs through the Extra Help program.
State-by-State Fact Sheets are available at https://www.cms.gov/files/