SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4) — Medicare open enrollment begins today, Oct. 15.

According to Medicare Resources, significant changes to Medicare plans in 2024 could cost Medicare beneficiaries hundreds, if not thousands of dollars if they do not act.

Medicare Resources offers three tips to help consumers avoid costly mistakes during Medicare open enrollment, which runs until Dec. 7.

Louise Norris, a health policy analyst for Medicare Resources, said they are seeing big changes in many Medicare plans and premiums for 2024. Depending on your plan, prescription drug coverage and your physician network can change year to year, she said.

“Doing a little research during open enrollment can go a long way toward ensuring you don’t pay too much in premiums or miss cost-saving opportunities,” Norris said.

Tip 1: Compare your options during Medicare open enrollment

Medicare Resources said most Medicare beneficiaries do not switch plans or even review their options, despite being bombarded by advertisements for different plans during open enrollment. They said that what you don’t know can cost or save you money.

“Keep in mind that a lot can change in a year, including your medical or financial needs,” Medicare Resources said.

Jenny Chumbley Hogue, a health policy analyst for Medicare Resources, said insurers have made some notable changes to their plans for 2024.

“Even if your medical or financial situation hasn’t changed, it’s still a good idea to take a fresh look at the available plan options,” she said.

Medicare open enrollment — also known as the Medicare annual election period — is a designated time when consumers can switch from Original Medicare to Medicare Advantage or vice versa; switch from one Medicare Advantage plan to another, or from one Medicare Part D prescription drug plan to another; or enroll in a Medicare Part D prescription drug plan if the consumer didn’t enroll when the consumer was first eligible, according to Medicare Resources.

Tip 2: Carefully review prescription drug coverage

When comparing Medicare coverage options, Medicare Resources said to consider a plan’s out-of-pocket costs, including copayments, deductibles, and coinsurance costs.

They said your annual review should include Medicare Part D prescription drug coverage, which can be obtained as a stand-alone plan or as part of a Medicare Advantage plan. Medicare Resources said you can use the plan finder tool to see how each Part D plan or MA-PD will cover any medications that you’re already taking.

It’s also important to make sure the pharmacies you need are in your desired plan’s network, and to compare what your out-of-pocket costs would be at multiple pharmacies, Medicare Resources said.

“One of the most important things people can do — especially this year —  is go online and compare how plans cover their prescription drugs,” Chumbley Hogue said. “Formularies and out-of-pocket costs can change every year. Medicare recipients could see significant cost savings just based on which pharmacy they use.”

Tip 3: See if you qualify for Extra Help

According to Medicare Resources, low-income Medicare beneficiaries may be eligible for financial assistance through Medicare’s Extra Help program, which can reportedly make prescriptions and premiums more affordable than they would be with Medicare Part D alone.  

For more detailed information about Medicare open enrollment, visit the Medicare Open Enrollment Guide.