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The Medicare Annual Election Period (Oct. 15 – Dec. 7 every year) is a great time to regularly review your Medicare coverage and make sure you’re getting the savings and benefits that are right for you. You’re likely to receive a lot of information about Medicare during this period, which can be confusing! These 9 questions can help you stay on task and discover whether you want to keep your current plan or consider new coverage for the next year.
Medicare Annual Election Period: Questions to Ask About Your Plan
1. Does my plan cover vision, hearing, dental, and fitness?
○ Medicare Parts A and B only include hospital and doctor coverage. If you need regular visits for vision (glasses, contacts, cataracts, etc.), hearing assists, or dental work, you may want to consider a Medicare Advantage Plan with a broader range of benefits.
2. Is prescription drug coverage part of my plan?
○ Prescription drug coverage is not included in Medicare Parts A and B and not all Medicare Advantage Plans have it either. However, not having prescription drug coverage can lead to lifelong Medicare fees. If you do have prescription drug coverage separately through a Part D Plan, consider asking if there is a Medicare Advantage (Part C) Plan available that bundles prescription coverage.
3. Which tele-health services are covered by my plan?
○ Tele-health services, whether by video or phone, are a rapidly growing aspect of medical care. Many Medicare plans now include coverage for these flexible services that allow you to access healthcare professionals from the safety of your own home.
4. Is my plan the highest rated in my area? (up to five stars)
○ The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) rate each Medicare plan on a 5-star scale. Ratings reflect the quality and variety of coverage available, as well as customer satisfaction with the plan.
5. Has my plan added new benefits this year?
○ Medicare plans update their costs and coverage each year. If your plan hasn’t added any new benefits, you may want to review other plans in your area to see if any of them offer new benefits that would help you.
6. Does my plan offer coverage for over-the-counter medical supplies?
○ Did you know that some Medicare Advantage Plans provide a stipend for over-the-counter (OTC) medical items? Each plan has a list of covered items, which often include OTC medications and supplements, band-aids, toothpaste and other dental supplies, bandages, vitamins, and more!
7. Are my most important medical concerns covered by my plan?
○ Our medical concerns can change from year to year. Take a moment to consider whether your needs have changed and whether your plan covers those specific needs. Do you anticipate any changing health needs over the next year? Comparing Medicare plans may tell you whether other plans in your area offer more benefits and savings to apply to your specific concerns.
8. Do I visit (or need to visit) any doctors or specialists who are not covered by my plan?
○ Out-of-network costs can add up quickly! Are any of your doctors or specialists outside your plan’s network? The Medicare Annual Election Period is a great time to look for a plan that includes those physicians.
9. Have the costs for my plan gone up this year?
○ It’s common for healthcare costs to go up a little from year to year as they keep pace with pricing. However, if your costs have gone up a lot or your financial needs have changed, the Medicare Annual Election Period is a good time to compare plans and find out if you may be eligible for reduced costs.
Finding Your Medicare Answers
You can answer these questions through your own online research, speaking with representatives of multiple plans, or working with an agent who represents plans from multiple carriers.
Whichever resource you choose, just make sure you leave yourself plenty of time to enroll before the Medicare Annual Election Period ends! December 7th comes quickly, especially once Thanksgiving is over. Don’t miss you
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