Moeller: A procrastinator’s guide to navigating Medicare open enrollment

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.

A clock shows the 11th hour. | Courtesy of Christian Schnettelker/Flickr
Philip Moeller has tips for people who have left Medicare enrollment until the 11th hour. | Courtesy of Christian Schnettelker/Flickr

This is the last week of Medicare’s annual open enrollment period, which began Oct. 15 and will end on Dec. 7. Several past Ask Phil columns have dealt with various aspects of open enrollment. Here’s the CliffsNotes summary:

Understand the basic choices you have

People with Original Medicare have the option during open enrollment of buying a Medicare Advantage plan, which must cover at least what Original Medicare covers. They cannot be denied coverage or required to pay more because of pre-existing conditions. (An exception to this rule is that people with end-stage renal disease are not eligible for a Medicare Advantage plans.)

Likewise, if you have a Medicare Advantage plan, you are free to pick a different a Medicare Advantage plan, or you can drop Medicare Advantage and switch to Original Medicare.

Everyone with Medicare — the roughly 70 percent with Original Medicare and the 30 percent with Medicare Advantage — has the option during open enrollment of purchasing a private Part D prescription drug plan or changing to a different Part D insurance plan.

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Philip Moeller

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.

Follow him on Twitter @PhilMoeller or e-mail him at

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