open enrollment medicare and retirement

Written by Kathryn Justis | 10/27/2021

It’s Time to Choose!

It’s Open Enrollment time of year!  Whether you are retired and making decisions about your Medicare coverage or are employed and faced with your annual employer benefits selection period, it is time to review and choose your coverages for the upcoming year.

Medicare Coverage

Medicare open enrollment
Medicare Health and Drug Plan enrollment
October 15 – December 7th

Get ready for Medicare’s Open Enrollment with these 5 tips: 1

  1. Check your mail.  You may get important notices from Medicare or Social Security. If you’re in a Medicare plan, you’ll get an Annual Notice of Changes (ANOC). Note any 2022 changes to your health coverage or any Extra Help you may get to pay for prescription drugs. You may also get health plan marketing materials, like brochures, from insurance companies that offer Medicare health and prescription drug plans. Remember — plans aren’t allowed to call or come to your home without an invitation from you.
  2. Review your 2022 “Medicare & You” handbookIt has information about Medicare coverage, as well as Medicare plans in your area. If you get your handbook by mail and want to get your next copy electronically, choose to go paperless next fall.
  3. Think about your Medicare coverage needs for 2022. Carefully review your Medicare coverage materials during Medicare Open Enrollment. Note any changes in 2022 costs or benefits. Decide if your current Medicare coverage will meet your needs for the year ahead. If you like your current coverage and it’s still available for 2022, you don’t need to take any action.
  4. Preview 2022 health and prescription drug plans. Medicare Plan Finder makes it easy to compare coverage options and shop for health plans. For a personalized search, log in or create an account (if you have a Medicare Number) to create or access a list of your drugs, compare your current Medicare plan to others, and see prices based on any help you get with drug costs.
  5. Get personalized help in your community. You may be able to find free information and events online and help from health insurance counselors in your area by phone, like your State Health Insurance Assistance Program.  (Shepherd Center of Charlotte)


An annual review of your Medicare insurance coverage is a good practice to implement. Did you know that most individuals stick with their original choices for Medicare coverage even though they could save money and have better coverage with a different plan? Most notably in Part D, Prescription Drug coverage, it is wise to re-evaluate your coverage annually to ensure that your individual situation and the prescriptions you rely on are being covered by the chosen Part D Plan. It is very common for prescription plans to alter the coverage levels for particular drugs, as well as to add/delete coverage entirely for some drugs. Additionally, your own health situation may have changed, affecting the list of prescription drugs you are currently taking.

If evaluating the available choices is overwhelming to you, contact a volunteer SHIIP counselor through your local senior center to set up an appointment. The volunteer will help you make the decision as to the best coverage for the year ahead.

Employer Benefit Selection Period 

If you or your spouse/partner are still employed, fall is typically the time your employer opens benefit enrollment for the following year. The dates of the enrollment period are specific to the employer, so be aware of the timing for your company. This is a significant perk of employment and represents part of your overall compensation package, so it’s worth your time to review carefully on an annual basis.

One of the biggest choices you have during the benefits enrollment period is to select your medical/dental/vision coverage for the upcoming year. This is an important choice for your entire family to ensure you are adequately covered in 2022. Additionally, you are making important choices about other employer benefits, such as disability coverage levels, life insurance, Health Savings Account deferrals, Flex Spending Accounts, and others. These tend to garner less attention during the selection process but can offer critical protections for your family and should be evaluated annually.

If you are working with a financial advisor, send them a copy of the choices available to help shore up personal life or disability policies, and to ensure you are taking full advantage of the benefits available to you as an employee. For most of these choices, your employer enrollment benefit period is the only time you can make changes to your levels.