What rights just ended on Thursday, December 7th for the 55 million Medicare beneficiaries in the US?


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Annual enrollment just ended on December 7th. Many Medicare beneficiaries are confused about what you can and cannot do outside of this period.  Below are the 5 rights that confuse people the most in regards to how they are affected by annual enrollment.

True or False: Did these rights end on December 7th?


  1. The right to leave Original Medicare, Part A and  Part B, and enroll in a Medicare Advantage plan, Part C.


Annual enrollment, which spans from October 15th – December 7th, is the only time during the year in which you can switch from Original Medicare to a Medicare Advantage plan.

  1. The right to switch from one Medicare Advantage plan to another Medicare Advantage plan.


Annual enrollment is also the only period in which you can switch your Medicare Advantage plan.  There are a few reasons to do this, including if you want to switch an HMO to/from a PPO, your doctors have changed, or the copayments and deductibles have increased.

  1. The right to switch an existing Medicare Supplement plan to another Medicare Supplement plan.


 You can switch your Medicare Supplement plan at any time, 365 days a year. You can check your rates on the Medicare calculator.

  1. The right to change a Part D drug plan to another Part D drug plan or enroll in Part D for the first time


Annual enrollment also includes Part D plans, which can also only be switched or enrolled in during this time. Many people want to switch drug plans due to changes in preferred pharmacies or drug formularies.

  1. The right to disenroll in a Medicare Advantage plan, Part C, and go back to Original Medicare, Part A and Part B.


 You can disenroll October 15th – December 7th, but it’s not over December 7th. You’ll get a second chance to disenroll January 1st – February 14th.

Most people do not know how Parts A, B, C, and D work together. The graphic outlines this. It is important to know how the four parts of Medicare work before making changes to your Medicare coverage. Healthcare costs are a large percentage of what retirees spend their money on. A couple retiring in 2017 will need an estimated $275,000 to cover health care costs for the rest of their lives, according to Fidelity. Any mistakes to your Medicare could cost you even more in the long run.

If you need help with your Medicare or would like the four parts explained more in depth, Cardinal can help you.

Hans Scheil is the author of “The Complete Cardinal Guide to Planning for and Living in Retirement” and the accompanying workbook. He can be reached at Hans@CardinalGuide.com.

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