Open enrollment for Medicare happens once a year, typically beginning the first of November and ending the first week in December. Many people are opting for a Medicare Advantage plan rather than original Medicare. Medicare Advantage plans are privately operated plans and work like traditional health insurance. Here are some guidelines for choosing a Medicare Advantage plan:
Find the plans in your area. To find Medicare Advantage plans for where you live, go to medicare.gov and search for the Medicare Plan Finder. SHINE (Serving Health Insurance Needs of Elders) is a free program where specially trained volunteers can assist you with your Medicare, Medicaid, and health insurance questions. It is offered by the Florida Department of Elder Affairs and your local Area Agency on Aging. In addition, our local area agency on aging has a toll-free elder helpline number: 866-684-5885
Compare benefits and costs. Think about the services you use most and how often you use them, then click on the “Benefits” tab for each plan to view what each plan offers and the cost. Remember that lower premiums usually mean higher deductibles and co-pays.
HMO or PPO? Most Medicare Advantage enrollees opt for HMO (health maintenance organizations) plans over PPO (preferred provider organizations) plans. HMOs typically cost less but require you to choose a primary care doctor to coordinate your care and will not pay for doctors outside their network. PPOs allow you to choose any doctor you want, and offer costs savings for choosing an in-network doctor.
Keeping your current doctor. If you want to keep your current doctor, check with his or her office to see if they are part of a Medicare Advantage plan network.
Get coverage for the drugs you take. After you narrow your choices, re-do your search and enter the names of the medications you are currently taking. The new results will show only the plans that cover those drugs. If some of the plans you chose earlier are still on the list, these are probably good options for you.
If you’d like to learn more about how we can help you with your long-term care and Medicaid planning, please contact us for your initial consultation at one of our conveniently located offices in Fort Pierce, Stuart, Port St. Lucie, Vero Beach, and Okeechobee.