It’s open enrollment time for Medicare, which can create anxiety for those 65 and older as they ponder whether they should stay with their current coverage or make a change to a cheaper option. It’s important to take a balanced approach and study the options, which can be overwhelming due to the large number of choices. According to The Wall Street Journal, there are resources available to help senior adults navigate the process. For example, there are State Health Insurance Assistance Programs that offer free help, as well as the nonprofit advocate group Center for Medicare Advocacy. Here are three tips to consider:
Understand the Options: There are two pathways for Medicare beneficiaries, which include the Medicare Advantage Plan, offered by private insurers, and traditional Medicare, which lets people use any provider who accepts Medicare. Be sure to explore all that each plan covers, as neither cover every cost.
Compare Networks and Services: A good place to start is to call all of your doctors and preferred hospitals and ask which Medicare plans they accept. It’s a best practice to double check that your providers are in network, because it is not a given that all participate and changes can occur from year to year.
Compare Costs: Regardless of the Medicare pathway you select, there will be a Part B premium. Additionally, for those who buy Part D or Medigap, premiums will apply. Evaluate the options for each of these to determine the best value for your needs.
Use A Plan Finder: There is a way to compare the costs of the different Medicare plan, which can help you assess what is best for your current health coverage needs. You can utilize the Plan Finder tool at Medicare.gov to set up an account that utilizes claims data to calculate estimated medication costs under specific plans.
Regardless of the pathway you choose, it is a good idea to spend some time researching and understanding your options. Since numbers can change from year to year, take advantage of this opportunity to discover what is best for you.