Medicare open enrollment begins for Kansans

Published: Oct. 16, 2021 at 1:07 PM CDT
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TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - Kansans have until Dec. 7 to enroll in health coverage through Medicare for 2022.

The Kansas Department for Aging and Disability Services says over 553,000 Kansans get health coverage through Medicare, and the time to review benefits is now. It said the open enrollment period for Medicare in 2022 began on Friday, Oct. 15, and will run through Dec. 7, 2021.

“Older adults can use this 7-week period to sign up for Medicare for the first time, and current Medicare beneficiaries can make changes to several aspects of their coverage as well,” said KDADS Secretary Laura Howard. “If you’re already enrolled, this is an opportunity to review your options for coverage and make adjustments if necessary, so it better meets your needs.”

By shopping available plans and comparing costs, KDADS said beneficiaries could find Medicare health or drug plan with better coverage for a lower premium in 2022. It said the Medicare Plan Finder allows users to compare prices between Original Medicare, Medicare prescription drug plans, Medicare Advantage plans and Medicare Supplement Insurance policies.

During open enrollment, KDADS said those currently enrolled can:

  • Switch from Original Medicare to Medicare Advantage, 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 Kansans want to enroll in a Medicare Advantage plan, KDADS said they must meet the following criteria:

  • You must be enrolled in Medicare Part A and B
  • You must live in the plan’s service area

If Kansans are already enrolled in a Medicare D prescription plan or a Medicare Advantage plan and do not want to make changes to coverage for 2022, KDADS said they do not need to do anything during open enrollment assuming their current plan will still be available in 2022. If their plan is discontinued and not eligible for renewal, it said Kansans will get a non-renewal notice from the carrier ahead of open enrollment. If this notice is not received, it means residents can keep their plan without lifting a finger during open enrollment.

KDADS said residents should be aware that benefits and premiums could be changed for 2022. So even if Kansans are confident they want to keep their current coverage for the upcoming year, it said it is important to understand any changes that could happen and check to make sure the current plan is still the best available option.

Available plans and what they cover change from year to year, so even if the plan a resident has now was the best option when they shopped in 2020, KDADS said it is important to verify that again before locking themselves in for another year.

Each year, KDADS said there is a Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment Period from Jan. 1 - March 31. During this time, it said if residents are in a Medicare Advantage plan and want to change plans, they can switch to a different Medicare Advantage Plan with or without drug coverage or go back to Original Medicare and, if needed, join a Medicare Prescription Drug Plan.

KDADS said changes to be aware of for 2022 include the following:

  • Medicare Advantage plans available in 2022: 88 compared to 79 plans in 2021.
  • 100% of people with Medicare have access to a Medicare Advantage plan.
  • The average monthly Medicare Advantage premium changed from $9.53 in 2021 to $7.79 in 2022. This represents a -18.19 percent change in average premium.
  • 29 Medicare prescription drug plans are available with premiums varying from $6.60 to $101.40.
  • 100% of people with a stand-alone Medicare prescription drug plan have access to a plan with a lower premium than what they paid in 2021.
  • Eight stand-alone Medicare prescription drug plans and 29 Medicare Advantage plans with prescription drug coverage will offer lower out-of-pocket insulin costs through the Part D Senior Savings Model.
  • Through the CMS Innovation Center’s Value-Based Insurance Design (VBID) Model, 16 plans will offer Medicare Advantage enrollees eliminated Part D cost-sharing; rewards and incentives programs related to healthy behaviors; and customized, innovative benefits that address social determinants of health, such as food insecurity and social isolation, for certain underserved and/or chronically ill enrollees.

For a state-by-state fact sheet, click HERE. (Kansas’ fact sheet is on pages 49-51.)

For more information about Medicare or related issues, contact KDADS’ Senior Health Insurance Counseling for Kansas at 800-860-5260 for the free service.

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