How to Navigate Your Medicare Options During the Annual Enrollment Period

The average Medicare beneficiary in 2023 has access to 43 Medicare Advantage plans, the largest number of options ever, according to KFF. With so many plans to choose from, the Medicare and Prescription Drug Plan Annual Enrollment Period (AEP), taking place from October 15 to December 7, may be overwhelming and confusing.

“The Medicare Annual Enrollment Period is when you can shop for a new plan, if you want to,” says Kate Long, consumer financial wellness advocate at Assurance IQ. “If you have a new doctor, are taking new prescriptions or if your existing plan simply no longer meets your needs, it could be time for a change.”

As Long points out, shopping for a new plan doesn’t necessarily mean you cannot stay with the same carrier. They may have multiple plans available in your area. The important thing is finding a Medicare Advantage plan that addresses your unique healthcare and budgetary needs. To help you navigate your options, consider these tips from Assurance IQ:

  • The first tip is to review your Annual Notice of Change, which should have been mailed to you before October 15. This document explains changes to your plan, such as providers, prescription drugs or services no longer covered. Make sure to review it carefully to understand if these changes could impact your plan benefits.
  • Next, you’ll want to assess your healthcare needs and financial standing. Are there services you know that you’ll need in the coming year? If your finances have changed, can you still afford your current plan? Are you taking a new prescription that your current plan doesn’t cover?
  • Now it may be time to shop around. Before enrolling in a plan, make sure that your preferred doctor, specialists and any prescriptions you need are covered. Ask which out-of-pocket costs you will be responsible for. It’s important to find an affordable plan for you.
  • You could also speak with a licensed insurance agent about your needs. Prep for the conversation by having a list of your prescriptions on hand, having your Medicare card nearby, and having a list of your doctors and medical equipment you use. Knowing which company provides your medical equipment is also important. Be sure to also read the “Medicare & You” handbook that is mailed to all Medicare beneficiary households in late September. You can also find it online by visiting

Medicare options are more expansive than ever. And while that makes the Annual Enrollment Period more complicated, the upside is that by doing your homework, you’ll be more likely to find a plan that works for you.

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John O Freeman 1935-2023

Mr. Freeman served with the 101st Airborne where he was stationed in France for 2 ½ years. He enjoyed woodworking, splitting wood and carpentry.

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