By Dave Reville
Medicare can help protect you or your loved one’s health, financial security and future. This year’s Medicare open enrollment season runs from Oct. 15 – Dec. 7. If you’re 65 or over, you can review your Medicare options and change plans if you’d like. In fact, each year you have a chance to review your coverage and see what new benefits Medicare has to offer.
If you’re satisfied that your current plan will meet your needs for the next year, you don’t need to make any changes. But it’s worth it to look at your options. Your health may change over time, and you may want to find a plan that works better for you. And if you are caring for someone who needs or has Medicare, you can also help that person navigate Medicare during open enrollment.
I encourage you to take some time to get to know how your Medicare works. Visit the AARP Medicare Question and Answer tool at www.aarp.gov/MedicareQA to find answers to common questions. When you are confident Medicare has you covered, you can focus on turning your life goals into real possibilities.
What to Consider When Selecting a Medicare Plan
You can compare Medicare coverage options on the Medicare Plan Finder at www.Medicare.gov. Click on “Find Health & Drug Plans.” When looking at your options, consider the four Cs: coverage; cost; convenience and customer service.
Make sure that the doctors you see and the medications you take will still be part of your plan in the coming year. If upcoming plan changes affect your coverage, then it’s important to review other Medicare coverage options.
Like most other insurance, Medicare does not pay for all your health care costs. You are responsible for paying for expenses such as deductibles, coinsurance and co-payments. If two or more plans seem to offer about the same coverage, consider choosing the plan with the lowest overall cost.
Remember, don’t just look at the premium (monthly payment). Also consider the deductible (how much you pay out-of-pocket before insurance kicks in), and coinsurance and copayments (how much you pay out-of-pocket for each service like visiting a doctor or filling a prescription). Make sure to compare all of these features so you can find a plan that works for you and your wallet.
Compare plans to see which doctors and hospitals are included in the coverage, as well as what local pharmacies participate. If you prefer mail-order pharmacies, check out which plans offer this option.
The Medicare plan finder tool on www.Medicare.gov provides a quality rating for each plan. The rating covers several aspects of each plan, including customer service, member complaints, drug pricing, managing chronic conditions and more.
All plans now cover certain preventive services at no cost to you, thanks to the Affordable Care Act. These include screenings like mammograms and colonoscopies and annual wellness visits with your doctor.
Dave Reville is the associate state director of communications with AARP Vermont.