Starting October 15th, many senior citizens will have the opportunity to make changes to their Medicare plan. Will you be one of them? If not, why? The Medicare Open Enrollment period will begin October 15th and end December 7th. Every year during this time, Medicare beneficiaries have the chance to review their Medicare coverage, premium and deductible and make significant changes if necessary. This could be the perfect time to find out if you can save a little money.
It can get rather complicated trying to read through the plans to determine what is actually best for your finances and your health. The options are many from Part A & B (the governments original Medicare plan), to Part C (Medicare Advantage) to Part D (prescription drug coverage). For those who have the original Medicare, you can keep what you have or consider changing to Medicare Advantage. If you have Medicare Advantage, you can switch to other Medicare Advantage plans or consider moving to original Medicare. Every year, Medicare Advantage and Part D make changes to their benefits, cost sharing provider networks and premiums, so do your research, shop around and make sure you're getting the most bang for your buck.
3 important questions to ask yourself:
- Will I save money?
- Can I keep my physician?
- Can I use my pharmacy?
In an article published in US News and Reports, there are 6 excellent steps to follow to make sure you are covered by the plan that satisfies your financial and medical needs.
Plan to shop and research
According to the Kaiser Foundation, since 2007, 8 out of 10 Medicare Advantage enrollees stay in the same plan. With the Medicare arena changing often, senior citizens should take take time to study their plan and not just sit on the sideline. An even more apathetic statistic, ehealth reports only 1 out of 10 are in a plan that maximizes cost of ownership.
Look for your doctor
Most older Americans prefer being able to keep their doctor, so it is vital to find a physician that accepts the plan you enroll in. As you might imagine, if you go to a physician who doesn't participate in Medicare or happens to be out of Network, your costs could be significantly higher just for routine visits.
Look out for changes to your plan
You've probably received an Annual Notice of Change from your insurer highlighting upcoming modifications to your plan. With these alterations from copays to premium increases, you would be wise to take notice and shop around. Consider and evaluate all costs-It is crucial for senior citizens to consider the overall costs associated with your plan. Take the time to add up the premium, copays, coinsurance and deductibles to know what your true costs will be, so you will be crystal clear on what your total spending will be.
Pay careful attention to prescription drug coverage
It is very important to determine which drug is covered by accessing the drug formulary for the plan you are considering. If your drug is on the formulary, it will typically be the cheaper plan. According to health.com, it is prudent to learn about potential restrictions too. Sometimes a drug may be covered, but it may have a restriction associated with it like prior authorization or a quantity limit. Additionally, certain plans are adopting network pharmacy benefits, so make sure the pharmacies near you are not out-of-network and participate in your plan.
Never hesitate to use free resources
Take time to research, access tools and talk to Medicare experts, so you can make your best Medicare Advantage and Part D decision. On Medicare.gov, the Plan Finder Tool will provide estimated drug costs for the year for each plan.
Don't hesitate to reach out to your State Health Insurance Assistance program for free personalized counseling services at shiptacenter.org or call 1-800-677-1116.
Lastly, you may access The Medicare Rights Center's national helpline at 1-800-333-4114.