The National Council on Aging is urging all individuals with Medicare to check their coverage during this year’s Open Enrollment, from Oct. 15 through Dec. 7.

For those who switch plans, coverage starts in 2024.

“It’s always a good idea to see if your current Medicare plan still works for you,” said Darren Hotton, associate director for community health and benefits at NCOA.

“Like with any other kind of insurance, Medicare coverage and prices can change from one year to the next. Or maybe you need better coverage for certain conditions.”

Research shows that only about 10% of individuals use this chance to switch plans. The result can be overspending for coverage they don’t need or use.

As poverty among older adults has increased to 14.1%, according to the most recent Census data, it is even more important than ever they have a health insurance plan that works for them.

The Biden Administration announced that the projected average premium for Medicare Advantage plans will be $18.50 per month, up from $17.86 per month in 2023.

The average basic monthly premium for standard Part D coverage is projected to be $55.50 in 2024, a decrease from $56.49 in 2023.

NCOA offers several tools to help older adults navigate their healthcare costs, including a guide to choosing a Medicare plan and partnerships with insurance brokers that have met NCOA’s Standards of Excellence.

NCOA’s BenefitsCheckUp® helps people with Medicare determine if they may be eligible for the Medicare Savings Programs and Medicare Extra Help — two programs that help cover healthcare costs for people with low and moderate incomes.

Another resource is the State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP) network. There are SHIPs in every state, and they provide local, in-depth, and objective insurance counseling and assistance to Medicare-eligible individuals, their families, and caregivers.

This is also an opportunity for individuals to see if they are eligible for benefits that help defray some out-of-pocket costs.

Every year, older adults leave $30 billion on the table because they are not enrolled in public benefits they are eligible for, such as Medicare Part D Low-Income Subsidy (LIS, or Extra Help), which represents $10.6 billion of that figure, and the Medicare Savings Programs (MSPs), which range between $4 billion and $6 billion in forfeited benefits.

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