Open enrollment for Medicare started on October 15 and continues until December 7. If you are on Medicare, take time to review your options especially if there have been changes in your health.
Most people don’t review their health and prescription drug options. Instead, they keep the same choices which may not be a wise decision.
Sifting through all the options Medicare offers can be onerous. Medicare offers free help via their website at Medicare.gov or by calling 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227).
Additionally, many health insurance brokers have knowledge regarding Medicare. Look for a licensed professional who is current with their designation. Also, ask them if they receive a commission from recommending certain Medicare plans (in this way, you’ll know up front if there is a conflict of interest with the recommendation).
As you compare plans, take into consideration your current lifestyle and health. If you often travel, explore if the plan will cover you when you are out-of-state or traveling internationally. If you have multiple homes or plan to relocate, look for flexibility with access to care.
Here are a few items to review when comparing plans:
1- Total cost
Look at both premiums and out-of-pocket costs. It’s easy to select the lowest premium, but most plans with a lower premium will result with higher out-of-pocket costs. Some plans may even have a maximum limit on out-of-pocket expenses.
2- Access to care
If the facility you need to go to for health care is a far distance from your home, it may become frustrating for you. Take into count your comfort level with driving and access to public transportation to alleviate dealing with traffic. Also, driving services for seniors may be in your area to help with this obstacle.
3- Number of physicians in-network
Check to see if your current physician is in-network. If you’re expecting major surgery or have a certain medical condition, make sure specialists you need are in-network. If the plan you select has a limited number of in-network physicians, then expect longer waiting times.
4- Perks with the plan
Medicare typically does not cover dental, vision, or hearing expenses. However, some plans may offer these items as perks. They may even offer membership to a fitness center. Pay attention to your perks and use them.
Selecting the appropriate Medicare plan has become complicated. Don’t go it alone. Seek professional help when selecting a plan and ask questions. Every year during open enrollment, you’ll have the opportunity to switch plans. With the healthcare environment constantly changing, it’s worth blocking off time during open enrollment to review your health care coverage.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Niv Persaud, CFP®, CDFA™, RICP®, CRPC®, is the Founder of Transition Planning & Guidance, LLC. Life is more than money. It’s about living the lifestyle you want and can afford. For that reason, Niv consults with clients on money, life, and work. Her approach capitalizes on techniques she learned throughout her career, including as a management consultant, executive recruiter, and financial advisor. Her services include developing spending plans, comprehensive financial plans, divorce financial reviews, retirement plans. Niv actively gives back to her community through her volunteer efforts. She believes in living life to the fullest by cherishing friendships, enjoying the beauty of nature and laughing often — even at herself. Her favorite quote is by Erma Bombeck, “When I stand before God at the end of my life, I would hope that I would not have a single bit of talent left and could say ‘I used everything you gave me.’”