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What to look for during Medicare open enrollment

Medicare open enrollment is from October 15 – December 7 and, if you’re 65 and over, now’s the time to see if you should enroll for the first time or make changes to your existing plan. Here’s a quick refresher for those that this applies:

Medicare Part A and B

First, you should be enrolled in both Part A and B. The former is free and covers limited hospital stays and limited skilled nursing care. The latter charges a premium based on your income and ranges from $135.50 - $460.50/monthly ^1, and is deducted from your Social Security benefits. It covers doctor visits, out-patient services, and some medical equipment.

Medigap (supplemental) vs Advantage plans

If you’re healthy, you should first consider Advantage plans, which are low cost (sometimes free) and has deductibles and copays. Advantage plans can also include prescription drugs, vision, dental coverage, and sometimes gym memberships (check with your gym if they offer Silver Sneakers). You’ll need to use a doctor within their network.

However, if you’re anticipating medical issues in retirement, then you may want to use Medigap (aka supplemental) as it’s more comprehensive and allows access to any doctor who takes Medicare. Medigap doesn’t include prescription drugs anymore so you’ll need to sign up for Medicare Part D if you want that coverage.

Traveling or living abroad considerations

Medicare doesn’t cover medical expenses incurred overseas, however, some Medigap policies may include some emergency coverage for international travel, limited to the first 60 day of travel ^2. If you are living full-time overseas, you may be required to have private insurance coverage (aka expat health insurance) or a plan through your host country.

If you don’t first apply for Medicare Part B when you turn 65 then you may be charged a late penalty of 10% each full year you wait. This is a big consideration for expats who may return to America in the future.

If you would like assistance with the above or to obtain a Medigap or Advantage plan quote, you can call my external support team at Crump Health Solutions at 855-909-7627 and reference I.D.# 14208382.

At Eureka Wealth Management, I keep my clients informed of the latest opportunities in retirement, including Medicare, and will assist in the research of your questions. I also do investment planning and tax and estate strategies. Call for a free, initial consultation at (760) 537-0791 or online at


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