Medicare Open Enrollment Begins October 15th. Here's the 4 – 1 – 1 to Keep You In The Know

Maura Schauss |

By Maura C. Schauss, CFP® and Todd I. Youngdahl, CFP®

When it comes to retirement, there seems to be a never-ending checklist of tasks to complete in order to prepare yourself for this major milestone. You need to save enough to maintain your lifestyle, create a withdrawal strategy, work to minimize your taxes, and claim your Social Security benefits. But there’s one other critical piece of retirement planning to prepare for: signing up for Medicare. And with healthcare being one of the top five expenses in retirement,[1] your Medicare choices are some of the most important decisions you will make.

Medicare is a federal insurance program designed for people age 65 and older. Enrollment into Medicare begins three months before you turn 65 and ends three months after the month you turn 65. The challenge with Medicare is that it often seems complicated and confusing. Since there are multiple plans and various enrollment periods, how do you make sense of all the information? Here’s a breakdown of Medicare’s Open Enrollment period and the options available to you.

When Is Medicare Open Enrollment?

The Medicare Open Enrollment period happens at the same time every year starting on October 15th and ends on December 7th. For coverage in 2020, open enrollment will run from October 15 to December 7, 2019. Once December 8th arrives, the enrollment period closes until the following October. During open enrollment, current Medicare users can switch coverage, add parts of their plan or drop parts of their plan.

What Will Medicare Cost?

The costs of Parts C and D vary depending on the plan you choose. If you’re looking at switching from a Part C plan to Original Medicare, then the costs will depend upon your income and how long you worked and paid into the Medicare system.

The standard premium for Medicare Part B is $135.50 for 2019. However, if your income is over $85,000 for a single person or $170,000 for a couple, then your premium will be higher. The range for high-income earners is from $189.60 to $460.50.[2]

Medicare Part A is free if you or your spouse paid into Medicare for at least 10 years, or 40 quarters. If you only have 30-39 quarters, it costs $240. The premium for less than 30 quarters is $437.[3]

How Do I Know Which Plan Is Right For Me?

Plan C and Plan D are known as the options with the most coverage. Financially speaking, they are the most comprehensive plans. If you have either the basic Plan A or Plan B, you can improve your coverage by complementing it with these plans. Part C is a prudent choice because it can provide for services like dental and hearing health, which are not covered by the basic insurance plans.

As you can see, Medicare is complicated and ever-evolving, so don’t try to handle the intricacies alone. On the right-hand side of the Medicare website, medicare.gov, you can find a list of your state’s resources that are available to help you get answers to your Medicare questions. 

Additionally, you can pose questions online to organizations like Medicare Matters.

At Washington Wealth Advisors, our goal is to help you pursue financial peace of mind. We want to ensure that you have a plan to cover all aspects of your retirement and are taking full advantage of all the retirement benefits available to you. If you need help evaluating your Medicare options, reviewing your insurance coverage, or just want to ask a couple of questions, we’re here to help. Call our office at 703.584.2700, email info@washingtonwealthadv.com, or schedule a meeting with us today!

About Washington Wealth Advisors

Washington Wealth Advisors is an independent registered investment advisory firm serving high net worth families and small businesses. We focus on holistic financial planning and comprehensive investment management. Leveraging our core strengths of unbiased, active investment management together with a detailed annual financial planning capability, we serve your comprehensive investment and financial planning needs.