Medicare’s Annual Election Period (AEP) provides you with the opportunity to review your current plan and make changes that might be necessary according to your situation. The idea is to enroll in the best plan for your needs and budget. But of course, these decisions can get complicated. As you sort through your options this fall, watch out for these common pitfalls that Medicare beneficiaries sometimes encounter during the enrollment process.

Assuming that you and your spouse should be on the same plan. Your plan works great for you, so naturally you think your spouse should use it too. But healthcare needs can vary greatly from one person to another. Your spouse might prefer a different primary care doctor, need a specialist that falls under a different network, or have different prescription medication needs than you do. So each of you should make your own decisions regarding Medicare enrollment.

Sticking with your plan without shopping around. The process of comparing different Medicare plans can feel overwhelming. Plus, your plan worked just fine for you last year. So you might feel tempted to skip this whole process, and allow your current plan to automatically renew.

However, that can be a mistake for a couple of reasons. First, your plan’s network, prescription drug formulary, or some other feature can change from one year to the next. Make sure you’ve read the Annual Notice of Change that your provider sent you prior to AEP. Second, you never know if an even better plan might be available until you look. Why pass up an opportunity to access more benefits or save money?

Forgetting to check the network. With Original Medicare, you can access care at any facility that accepts Medicare. But Advantage plans operate through a network. Make sure to check that your preferred providers are covered under a plan’s network before signing up with it.

Of course, the best way to avoid pitfalls is to seek expert guidance during this process. Remember, you can access free help with choosing a Medicare plan. All you have to do is call us, and we will help you identify the options available to you and determine the best fit for your needs.