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When does the open enrollment period start?
The Medicare open enrollment period begins on October 15 and runs through December 7. Any changes made during open enrollment are effective as of January 1, 2017.
During the open enrollment period, you can:
- Join a Medicare Prescription Drug (Part D) Plan
- Switch from one Part D plan to another Part D plan
- Drop your Part D coverage altogether
- Switch from Original Medicare to a Medicare Advantage Plan
- Switch from a Medicare Advantage Plan to Original Medicare
- Change from one Medicare Advantage Plan to a different Medicare Advantage Plan
- Change from a Medicare Advantage Plan that offers prescription drug coverage to a Medicare Advantage Plan that doesn’t offer prescription drug coverage
- Switch from a Medicare Advantage Plan that doesn’t offer prescription drug coverage to a Medicare Advantage Plan that does offer prescription drug coverage
What should you do?
Now is a good time to review your current Medicare plan. As part of the evaluation, you may want to consider several factors. For instance, are you satisfied with the coverage and level of care you’re receiving with your current plan? Are your premium costs or out-of-pocket expenses too high? Has your health changed, or do you anticipate needing medical care or treatment?
Open enrollment period is the time to determine whether your current plan will cover your treatment and what your potential out-of-pocket costs may be. If your current plan doesn’t meet your health-care needs or fit within your budget, you can switch to a plan that may work better for you.
What’s new in 2017?
The initial deductible for Part D prescription drug plans increases by $40 to $400 in 2017. Also, most Part D plans have a temporary limit on what a particular plan will cover for prescription drugs. In 2017, this gap in coverage (also called the “donut hole”) begins after you and your drug plan have spent $3,700 on covered drugs — a $390 increase over the 2016 initial coverage limit of $3,310. It ends after you have spent $4,950 out-of-pocket, after which catastrophic coverage begins. However, part of the Affordable Care Act gradually closes this gap by reducing your out-of-pocket costs for prescriptions purchased in the coverage gap. In 2017, you’ll pay 40% of the cost for brand-name drugs in the coverage gap (60% discount) and 51% (49% discount) of the cost for generic drugs in the coverage gap. Each succeeding year, out-of-pocket prescription drug costs in the coverage gap continue to decrease until 2020, when you’ll pay 25% for covered brand-name and generic drugs in the gap.
Where can you get more information?
Determining what coverage you have now and comparing it to other Medicare plans can be confusing and complicated. Pay attention to notices you receive from Medicare and from your plan, and take advantage of help available by calling 1-800-MEDICARE or by visiting the Medicare website, www.medicare.gov.
I spend a large amount of my time, my career, providing financial advice to seniors and helping them become more savvy about investments and saving. In doing so, I get to share my knowledge and passion for finance and help others in the process; and by that, I mean, enabling my clients to live fulfilling lives and enjoy the fruits of their labor. The happiness of those with which I work is just as important as the tools I’m providing them, and building a great financial future is a significant part of realizing aspirations. It all works together.
However, simply knowing finance principles is not the key to happiness. There are a number of factors which contribute to someone’s peace of mind and ability to pursue goals with confidence. Dr. Karl Pillemer, a professor at Cornell University and founder of the institution’s Legacy Project sheds a light on exactly what that is. In talking to hundreds of seniors about life lessons, Pillemer found that one of the most fundamental tools for happiness (and inversely, one of the biggest reasons for regret) is the lack of worry or “fear and concern that something bad could happen,” as defined by the Merriam-Webster dictionary.
Essentially, Dr. Pillemer’s participants reveal that worry is the enemy to the good life; and too many of them, it seems, found that out too late. On the bright side, however, they’ve learned a lesson which helped them make better decisions going forward, and can help you right now. That lesson is not merely waking up and turning off some magical worry button that you’ve left on for the last 20 years, it’s getting focused and creating a smart, strategic plan to help you better deal with uncertainty and take control of your own life.
Of course, planning can cause a bit of worry as well. Thinking about the sum of your financial future can be overwhelming. Hence, it is recommended that individuals begin by assessing their problems or potential concerns, then focus on the short-term goals to alleviate them. Decide what you want to accomplish in the next year, the next month, and that will help you build better skills to plan five and ten years ahead. It’s really about prioritizing and being realistic about what you can handle in the moment. Progress doesn’t have to be sweeping change. In fact, incremental progress is better for long-term success.
There are a number of other jewels of advice from both the Dr. Pillemer and the 1,200 individuals who participated in the Legacy Project’s study. However, this simple tool is foundation for so many others. Spending just a little time proactively managing your career, your income, your dreams, your network, is infinitely better than being captive to them later, and using the time meant to enjoy your life, cleaning it up.
Still, it’s never too late to take hold of this principle. An experienced financial advisor can you help you problem solve, turn things around, and begin navigating your way toward a more pleasing journey–one that puts your happiness at the forefront. Afterall, that’s what you’ve worked towards for most of your adult life. Make it worthwhile.
Roshan particularly enjoys playing sports for charitable events, and one of his favorite memories is when his basketball team won a charity tournament in the spring of 2015. He is also a sports fan. His favorite teams include the Washington Redskins, Washington Wizards and, of course, the Maryland Terrapins.
Roshan grew up in the DC Metro Area. His first experience in the financial services industry was when he interned at Morgan Stanley Dean Witter. In 2000 he joined American Express Financial Advisors, which would later spin off as independent company Ameriprise Financial. In 2008, Roshan joined Arete Wealth Management, LLC as a Retirement Specialist and Partner.