Changing Medicare Plans and Avoiding Penalties

Time is almost up to change your Medicare plans and you may be able to save money if you do. The Medicare Open Enrollment period ends December 7th. 

Some people have tricky situations and may want to figure out a special strategy.  Sheila Gassler wrote to us and said she discovered that she has a penalty payment  for her Medicare drug plan because she didn’t sign up for Medicare Part D initially. Now she has to pay extra for the rest of her life, and the charges add up.

Courtesy Wikimedia
Courtesy Wikimedia

She says, “I am 79 years old and want to get a Medicare Advantage plan, but the plan came with a drug plan. The plan costs $50 a month.” But the penalty, she says, is an additional $40 a month and it doesn’t seem worth it. She says that she’s been paying out of pocket and finds that she can get cheaper medication when she needs it in Canada.

We asked the experts what someone like Sheila should do.

Rae Carole Fisher, an agent for UnitedHealthcare, told us, “There are Medicare Advantage Plans that do not have a drug component. At United Healthcare we have a Medicare Advantage Plan that is called Medicare Advantage Essentials.”

The plan may not be available in every state, so you have to do a little research and check to see which plans are offered in your area.  

The tip is simple

  • Ask insurers in your area if they have Medicare Advantage plans that don’t require a separate drug plan that will come with a penalty.




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Barbara Nevins Taylor

As the winner of 22 Emmy Awards and a slew of journalism honors and awards, I created to give you the straight story about complicated stuff. Tell us what you want to know and we'll get you the answers.

2 thoughts on “Changing Medicare Plans and Avoiding Penalties”

  1. Dear Barbara, Thank you for taking time to look into ,my problem. I am certain that there are other Seniors in the same boat and I was hoping to rouse them into action to protest the penalities for life. I have never encountered such outrages penalities! My Doctor was also outraged and wanted to support me. As for UnitedHealthcare, my experiences with that company on my patients’ behalf has been very negative!!! I shall, therefore continue on my own, although I have been warned to “give it up and go away.” Sheila

    1. Sheila, Do take a look and see if there is a Medicare Advantage plan with another insurer in your area. It may be worth it. We’re also posting something else this afternoon that may help.
      But in the meantime,it would be great if you used our Forum to try to raise awareness about this. Follow this link and plea feel free to post there. Maybe we can get something going.

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