3 Things to Know About Picking a Medicare Plan

The annual enrollment period for Medicare occurs annually between October 15 and December 7. Your choice is a critical decision as it will determine your financial responsibility and the quality of care you will have access to in 2019. Because Medicare is both a government-sponsored health care program and part of the private insurance sector, there are significant differences between the two, which makes navigating the government’s Medicare website a complicated process. Before you begin your search, here are three things you should know about picking a plan.

1. Choose Traditional or Medicare Advantage

Both programs provide recipients with access to Part A and Part B, which ensures access to hospitals, physicians, lab work, hospices and nursing home care. As 99 percent of people who receive Part A paid enough payroll taxes to avoid premiums for a guaranteed number of days, someone who is healthy may not want to incur too many premiums and deductibles. Part B premiums depend on your income level, which means you will pay out-of-pocket between $134 and $426.60 and, as of 2018, the deductible is $183.

Although it is important to consider cost, you need to choose a plan that is based on need. Medicare Advantage is available through an insurance carrier which includes access to additional medical services that Medicare does not pay for. Part C also pays for services like vision and dental, which is a big bonus. You must first visit Medicare.gov or BGAInsurance.net – AARP Plans. There is also a lot of online advice and user feedback that will give you a better outlook on Medicare and Medicare Advantage.

2.  Weigh the Advantages of Plan D

Medicare began offering Part D enrollment in 2003 for prescription coverage. Co-pays for prescriptions are just $30, which will be a vital benefit for the elderly who have chronic illnesses. If you also fail to sign up for it when first available, you will accrue a penalty when changing your benefit plan later. This will be a costly mistake if you become ill unexpectedly as it raises the probability of out-of-pocket expenses. Some Americans qualify for government programs like Medicaid which pays the co-pays. If you do not qualify for payment assistance, Medigap or supplement insurance plans are alternatives.

3.  Take Time to Research

Most especially if you are a newer enrollee, take the time to consider how your needs fit each plan. If you intend to keep your doctor, you need to make sure that Medicare payments are accepted. You also need to research what plans are available in your area since it varies by region and coverage. Start by visiting the Medicare Plan Finder, which allows you to enter data that customizes the plans available to you. If you are transitioning from worker-provided insurance to Medicare upon retirement, you also have access to insurance companies or agencies like AARP that cater to the elderly. You will need to take note of benefits and costs so that you will be able to compare them.

You will learn quickly that not all Medicare benefit packages are the same. Considering your health and financial abilities will aid your decision, but do not forget to think about the what-ifs.

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