Journalist Philip Moeller, who writes widely on health and retirement, is here to provide the Medicare answers you need in “Ask Phil, the Medicare Maven.” Send your questions to Phil.
The annual Medicare open enrollment period is underway, having begun on Oct. 15 and extending through Dec. 7. During this period, you can shop for new Medicare policies and even switch from Original Medicare (Parts A and B) to a Medicare Advantage plan or vice versa. Most people don’t change plans, despite studies that repeatedly find they could save money and improve their coverage by doing so. Doing nothing here means you actually are doing something — automatically re-enrolling in your current plan.
For 2016, active plan shopping will yield big benefits in Medicare Part D prescription drug plans. Rising drug prices are the second-biggest headline for Medicare plans next year. The biggest involves projected 50 percent increases in Medicare Part B premiums for many Medicare enrollees next year, plus a similar jump for everyone on Medicare in the annual Part B deductible. There has been lots of talk in Washington about possible fixes but no action to date.
Philip Moeller is a research fellow at the Center on Aging & Work at Boston College and co-author of “How to Live to 100.”
He wrote his latest book, “How to Get What’s Yours: The Secrets to Maxing Out Your Social Security,” with Making Sen$e’s Paul Solman and Larry Kotlikoff. He is now working on a companion book about Medicare.