Every year, Medicare recipients are allowed to switch from good old Medicare to a different coverage model during the Annual Election Period (AEP), which runs from October 15 through December 7. Medicare Advantage plans aren’t right for everyone, but they can save some folks substantial money. How do you go about choosing the best Medicare Advantage plan?
Consider your doctors
Chances are you’ve found doctors you like, and who know you and know your particular medical history, and you’d like to keep them. Make sure you look at the particular network the Medicare Advantage plan you’re considering uses, and look up your doctors to make sure that they are members of that network.
Most Medicare Advantage plans use Health Maintenance Organization (HMO) networks. HMOs often do not pay anything for care obtained outside of their network, so make sure you carefully consider this when selecting a plan.
Look at the deductibles and copayments
Sometimes you might think a plan offers a good deal because the premium is low, but in reality it’s because that plan has a much higher deductible. Deductibles, copayments, and coinsurance can add up substantially throughout the year, so consider all of them when looking at a plan.
Consider whether your drugs are covered, and how
Medicare Advantage plans incorporate coverage for prescription drugs, something original Medicare doesn’t do. So one of the steps in your process for evaluating Medicare Advantage plans should be to consider the list of drugs you rely on, and check the formulary of the company that you’re considering, in order to ensure that your drugs are covered. Also consider how they pay for those drugs, because depending on the coverage scheme they use, you might still be paying a substantially large sum out of your own pocket for your drugs.
Check out the ancillary benefits
Many Medicare Advantage plans offer additional coverage for things like vision and dental care, as well as membership in health club facilities. If these type of benefits are important to you, be sure to evaluate that part of any of the plans you’re looking at as well, while you’re making your decision.
Wiley Long is founder and president of Medigap Advisors, and is passionate about helping people navigate the confusing waters of Medicare. He is the author of The Medicare Playbook: Designing Your Successful Health Coverage Strategy, a clear and simple explanation so you can make the most of your Medicare coverage. For more information visit www.MediGapAdvisors.com.