As you well know, Open Enrollment is upon us, and will be until December 7th of this year. Many seniors take advantage of this time of year to better control health care costs by deciding which version of Medicare to enroll in or switch to. Those that play their cards right can save hundreds, even thousands of dollars every year. But not everyone does play their cards right.
Unfortunately, many stand before the vast variety of options regarding Medicare, don’t understand the different coverage each plan offers in comparison with the others, feel overwhelmed, and make bad decisions. So we are here to give you a more comprehensive breakdown than what you’re probably used to seeing.
Deductibles, coinsurance and restrictions apply to each type of Medicare, but coverages and costs can change yearly, which can contribute to the confusion. Every year, you must check what your existing plan includes or excludes for the upcoming year.
- Medicare Part A covers hospital care, and usually does not require you pay a premium.
- Medicare Part B covers doctor’s visits and outpatient services, and premiums in 2019 will be between $135.50 – $460.50 depending on your income.
- Medicare Advantage serves as an alternative to Original Medicare and is offered by private insurers. These plans cover the same services, but can offer extra benefits like eyeglasses, dental care, or drug coverage. Pay differs person-to-person depending on the coverage received.
- Medicare Part D is prescription drug coverage.
Ultimately, your choices are three:
- Original/Traditional Medicare which consists of Parts A and B
- Medicare Advantage (sometimes referred to as Part C), or the private insurer version of Parts A and B, often with Part D mixed in
- Medigap, or supplemental coverage that can help lower out-of-pocket costs for Original Medicare
So which coverage is right for you? 5 Steps you can take to see which plan best meets your medical needs are listed below:
1. Make a list of all your drugs and their dosages. This will make it easier to compare costs.
2. Carefully read your Annual Notice of Change letter. If you already have coverage, you should have received a letter around the end of September, informing you what will be covered by your existing plan in 2019, as well as what changes may be taking place. This is a good way to find out if your plan is dropping coverage that you need.
3. Compare Original Medicare and Medicare Advantage. Advantage plans may offer extra benefits. Thanks to the Trump Administration it may be able to offer in-home health-related renovations such as bathroom handlebars, or hot meals delivered to the home. Medicare Advantage plans also cap your out-of-pocket expenses.
4. Figure out whether you need Medigap supplemental coverage. Medigap is private insurance that applies to that which is covered by your Original Medicare plan but picks up more of the cost. It is not compatible with Medicare Advantage. Most seniors who have a multiplicity of health care needs find they can better control their costs with Medigap.
5. Decide whether you should switch from Original Medicare to Medicare Advantage. If you would prefer having additional coverage that Original Medicare does not provide, it might make sense to make the switch over to a Medicare Advantage plan available in your state.
If you still want more tools to compare plans, use the Plan Finder at Medicare.gov, which allows you to compare plan features, premiums, co-pays, etc. depending on where you live.
And if you require any further assistance, reach out to SeniorQuote Insurance Services for free at 1-800-992-7724.
Original article first published in Investor’s Business Daily
Original Author: Paul Katzeff
Wording changed for reposting purposes