For Americans turning 65 or older, the beginning of fall is also the beginning of the Medicare season. Whether you are new to Medicare or have been using it for years, each season brings changes to your plan options. These five Medicare tips can help you verify that you are getting the most out of your Medicare plan.
Medicare Tip #1: Check for Plan Disruptions
If you already have a Medicare plan, watch your mailbox for a plan disruption letter. A plan disruption letter, sometimes called a non-renewal notice, means your current plan will not be available in your area the following year. Your current plan won’t drop your coverage immediately, but you will have to find a new plan during the Annual Enrollment Period (AEP), which runs from October 15 until December 7.
If you already work with a licensed insurance agent, contact him or her as soon as October 15. Licensed insurance agents gain access to new plan offerings on October 15 and can help you review new plan options available this year. If you don’t already have a licensed insurance agent, contacting one is in your best interest. We’ll talk about why with tip #5.
Medicare Tip #2: Check for Plan Changes
All health insurance plans can change from year to year, including Medicare plans. This year, check for changes in your plan’s:
- Drug formulary
- Network providers
Plan changes can be extremely minor, like monthly premiums increasing slightly to match inflation. However, more drastic changes to premiums, networks, or coinsurance amounts can make plans more expensive. And the loss of a primary in-network specialist could be the loss of a well-built relationship. That’s why it’s so important to review your options before the Annual Enrollment Period is over, even if you enjoyed your plan last year.
Medicare Tip #3: Assess Your Needs
It’s wise to assess your needs each year, whether you are new to Medicare or not. Ask yourself:
- What is my current health status? What level of coverage will I need?
- What is my budget for a Medicare, Medicare Advantage, or Medicare Supplement plan this year?
- What new and existing medications will my drug plan need to cover this year?
- Which doctors or specialists do I need my plan to cover this year?
By answering these questions before you start shopping for plans, you can filter out options that will not meet your current needs.
Medicare Tip #4: Consider Supplemental Coverage
While you review your plan options and assess your needs, you may want to consider supplemental health insurance. Even with Original Medicare and a Medigap plan, or a Medicare Advantage plan, you may have other services you want covered.
However, you can’t use a Medigap plan at the same time as Medicare Advantage. If you decide a Medigap plan is best, you might choose to stop using Medicare Advantage.
Dental and vision insurance are common supplemental health insurance plans that are not included in Original Medicare. Routine cleanings, minor and major dental work, vision exams, and corrective lenses can be important. It may be useful to ask a licensed insurance agent to find dental and vision insurance that fits into your budget.
Life, critical illness, and cancer insurance are also supplemental plans available to seniors. These plans are designed to provide individuals with a financial cushion should an unexpected situation occur.
Medicare Tip #5: Contact a Licensed Insurance Agent
Licensed insurance agents really come in handy during the Annual Enrollment Period. Not only do they understand the ABCs of Medicare, they are experienced in matching consumer’s needs and budgets to plans. Plus, their services come at no cost to you and will not affect the price of your Medicare plan. So whether you find a plan on your own or a licensed insurance agent finds the exact same plan for you, it will cost the same amount.
What Can a Licensed Agent Do?
A licensed insurance agent can meet with you in person, over the phone, or virtually online. The licensed insurance agent can help you review your options, including changes to your current plan, and make sure they still meet all of your needs. A licensed insurance agent can also help you find and compare new plan offerings for Medigap, Medicare Advantage, and Medicare Part D. If you’re interested, a licensed insurance agent can even help you find supplemental health insurance.
Apply for a Medicare Plan With HealthMarkets
Now that you’re armed with these Medicare tips, HealthMarkets can help you review your options. Get started comparing plans online now. Or you can speak with a licensed insurance agent by calling (800) 488-7621 today.