Navigating Medicare enrollment is never simple. And for some of us, that means we throw up our hands and don’t shop around: Research by the National Council on Aging found that nearly half of Medicare recipients have never shopped around for better coverage.
But experts say that you can save a lot of money by comparing Medicare plans. “There’s no doubt that a lot of seniors are in the wrong plan,” says Ross Blair, the CEO of PlanPrescriber.com, a site that compares Medicare plans. “A lot of them could save hundreds of dollars a year by switching.” Some great resources to help you start comparing Medicare plaarison tool and rating system; SHIPtalk.org, which gives you access to local counselors to help guide you through Medicare choices; Eldercare.gov, which provides local referrals and information.
You should also be aware of two changes to Medicare enrollment this year:
- Medicare enrollment starts earlier and ends earlier. As of October 15, eligible recipients can begin joining a new Medicare plan or change from the one they’re currently in, but you can only enroll through December 7th this year. (Last year, the enrollment period ran from mid-November through the end of the year.)
- There’s year-around enrollment for some. There is one major exception to this enrollment period: You can switch to a five-star Medicare plan (these are the highest rated plans) at any point this year beginning on December 8th and going through November 30, 2012. But don’t wait to enroll – not everyone will have access to a five-star plan.