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Retirement Hacks: Are you eligible for Medicare? What to know about open enrollment

Medicare’s open enrollment period begins Oct. 15, and Americans have less than two months to figure out what plans and coverage they’ll enroll in.

Retirement Tip of the Week: Don’t wait to make changes to Medicare. Two months may feel like a long deadline, but it takes time to review what options are available in each locality, and do a cost-benefit analysis of current and future health insurance needs.

So long as beneficiaries make their coverage choices by Dec. 7, benefits will begin on Jan. 1.

MarketWatch will be discussing the options for Medicare coverage, as well as the do’s and don’ts during this enrollment period, with Ari Parker, lead adviser at Chapter, a company that specializes in maximizing Medicare coverage during a Barron’s Live podcast episode on Wednesday, Oct. 13 at 12 p.m. eastern. It will be a follow-up discussion from a September Barron’s Live event, which you can listen to here.

You can sign up for the Oct. 13 Barron’s Live event here.

Medicare’s open enrollment period is mostly for current beneficiaries, who can use this as a good time to review their current coverage and determine whether their needs for health insurance were met in the past year. Then, they can change their current insurance, such as adding coverage or dropping a plan. Beneficiaries are not required to make changes.

See: Medicare is not enough—why so many Americans over 65 can’t afford healthcare

This period is different from Americans’ ability to enroll in Medicare when they become eligible at age 65. Those who are newly qualified to enroll in Medicare have their own enrollment period, which begins three months before the month of their 65th birthday, and three months after (for a total of seven months).

Medicare.gov released a 2022 “Medicare & You” handbook to help Americans sift through coverage options and available plans across the country. The guide is available electronically. The site also has a preview for 2022 drug plans under Part D and Medicare Advantage plans. People can also see what plans cover certain medications and the annual cost and premiums associated with those drugs

During Medicare’s open enrollment period, people can switch from Original Medicare to a Medicare Advantage plan, which are government-approved health insurance plans offered by private companies. There is an additional enrollment period for Medicare Advantage, between Jan. 1 to March 31, when beneficiaries can choose a different Medicare Advantage plan or switch to Original Medicare. During the later period, beneficiaries cannot switch from Original Medicare to a Medicare Advantage plan or get drug coverage under Original Medicare.

Tune in to MarketWatch’s Barron’s Live event about Medicare’s open enrollment period on Wednesday, Oct. 13.

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