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Common Mistakes to Avoid During Medicare Open Enrollment

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Common Mistakes to Avoid During Medicare Open Enrollment

Medicare Open Enrollment occurs each year from October 15 to December 7. During this annual enrollment period, eligible participants have a chance to review and update their existing Medicare plans to one that better suits their needs for the upcoming year. While this process may seem simple, the deadlines, changes and pressure can make it a little overwhelming for many people.

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To help make it easier for you, below are the most common mistakes beneficiaries make during Medicare Open Enrollment — and strategies that may help you avoid them.

Mistake #1: Assuming your current health care coverage will remain the same

Every year, beneficiaries enroll in either Medicare Advantage or a stand-alone Part D prescription drug plan. Changes to these plans are frequent, and they can affect your:

  • Monthly premiums
  • Deductibles
  • Coinsurance
  • Copayments
  • Pharmacy networks

In other words, these changes might mean a significant increase in out-of-pocket expenses next year.

Solution: Avoid surprises by reviewing the Medicare Annual Notice of Change (ANOC). Mailed to your home each September, this document lists any changes in coverage, costs or service area that will be effective on January 1 of the following year. If you discover any undesirable changes or if the ANOC sparks questions, take the time to reach out to a licensed agent to discuss your options and make the necessary updates.

Mistake #2: Procrastination

Because there’s a narrow, limited window in which to review new coverage updates before making your annual selection, it’s important to intentionally set aside time to read through and understand your options.

You’ll also want to consider future medical conditions and expenses in relation to your budget. Allow ample time to both complete the process in a timely manner and enroll in a plan that fits your health care needs for the upcoming year.

Remember: If you procrastinate, you could find yourself locked into a plan that's unfit and not easy to change. You might even incur late enrollment penalties.

Solution: To avoid making a rushed decision, allow plenty of time to review the ANOC. Compare your current plan with any new plans available for next year, noting any differences that may impact your coverage or better fit your needs. Also, make a list of your current and future medical expenses. Finally, consider taking time to make an appointment with a licensed insurance agent who can help you weigh your options.

Mistake #3: Making your decision based on monthly premiums only

While paying a lower premium seems ideal, it is not always the best option for saving money on medical expenses in the long run. It's important to consider all possible costs when choosing your plans, including:

  • Premiums
  • Deductibles
  • Prescription drug copays

To illustrate the importance of considering all of these factors, understand that by basing your decision solely on the monthly premium, you could find yourself paying less than $20 per month but paying over $300 on your prescriptions because those are not covered on your plan.

Solution: Eliminate your chances of spending unnecessary out-of-pocket expenses by visiting the official Medicare website ( and using the Medicare Plan Finder Tool to compare plans. Be sure to sort the available plans by "lowest drug + premium cost" to view plans that offer you the lowest overall annual out-of-pocket costs.

The takeaway

Consider the Medicare Open Enrollment period as your opportunity to ensure you’re getting the right health insurance for your budget and your health care needs. By reviewing the changes in your current plan, setting a personal deadline to complete the enrollment process and using available tools to compare plans, you'll be able to make informed — rather than rushed — decisions about your Medicare options.

Last updated April 2024.

Information in this article is general in nature and for your consideration, not as financial advice. Please contact your own financial professionals regarding your specific needs before taking any action based upon this information.

Not connected with or endorsed by the United States government or the federal Medicare program. This is a solicitation of insurance. A licensed insurance agent/producer may contact you.

RBFCU Investments Group LLC is a wholly-owned subsidiary of RBFCU Services LLC. RBFCU Services LLC is affiliated with Randolph-Brooks Federal Credit Union (RBFCU).

Medicare Supplement Insurance Plans, or Medigap Insurance Plans, and Medicare Advantage Plans are offered by certain agents of Randolph-Brooks Federal Credit Union (RBFCU) through PTT Financial, LLC, and not through or in association with Ameriprise Financial Services, LLC. Ameriprise Financial Services, LLC is not affiliated with PTT Financial, LLC.

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