New tips this year for Medicare enrollment in Iowa

DES MOINES — Inflation continues to adversely affect the budgets of many older Iowans, and with Medicare enrollment now open, experts stressed it is a crucial time to double-check your health coverage to find possible savings.

Between now and Dec. 7, Medicare enrollees can compare their health and prescription drug plans and see if there’s something more desirable to sign up for in the coming year.

Kristin Griffith, director of the Senior Health Insurance Information Program for the Iowa Insurance Division, said they still find too many people do not realize there are annual changes in need of attention.

“The drugs that are covered change year to year, the premiums folks pay change year to year and occasionally even the benefits they receive change year to year,” Griffith outlined. “So, it’s so important to make sure that you have a comparison done.”

For Part B plans, monthly premiums will see a slight decrease. However, there will be some cost increases under Part A. Griffith added some provisions under the Inflation Reduction Act are taking effect, including a monthly cap of $35 for insulin, as well as full coverage of certain vaccinations, such as shingles.

Griffith added there are now Medicare Advantage plans available in all of Iowa’s 99 counties. Also known as Part C plans, they involve bringing in a private vendor to oversee your Medicare coverage.

“They’ll lay out what networks you can go to for your doctors, or talk about you know what you need to do if you need prior authorization, or if you need to see a specialist,” Griffith explained.

Part C plans may cover things original Medicare does not, like vision, hearing, and dental services. Griffith added Advantage Plan premiums tend to be lower, but there are out-of-pocket expenses, along with requirements about staying in provider networks.

Because of the many year-to-year changes, groups like AARP Iowa encourage beneficiaries to take advantage of the information program’s expertise and reach out to one of their counselors during open enrollment to discuss their individual situation and plan options.