That’s the first of the 54 days for people 65 and older should choose their Medicare options by 2018. These options could save you hundreds, or even thousands of dollars a year, and could really determine the quality of your care. medical and your health in the future.
In other words, this is important, but it is also complicated. Although the government has worked hard to simplify the bureaucracy surrounding this 52-year program, Medicare beneficiaries have many options. And especially for Medicare Advantage and plans for Part D prescription drugs, coverage options may be difficult to understand.
“These plans change a lot from year to year,” says Leigh Purvis, director of health services research at the Public Policy Institute of AARP. “You can stop taking hundreds of dollars if you’re not in the plan that suits you best.” But the decision is not only economic; Your health care needs and preferences often change as you get older. When changing your needs, it may be better for you to have another health plan.
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The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) says the average Medicare Advantage premium is expected to be about $ 30 per month by 2018, slightly less than in 2017. CMS also predicts enrollment in Medicare plans Advantage will reach 20.4 million people next year, an unprecedented level.
However, there is little time: you only have until December 7 to investigate, make decisions and submit the forms. To help you get started, these are the three main steps to finding the Medicare coverage that works best for you.
1. Choose the Original or Advantage plan.
For new participants, this is the first important decision. The Original Medicare plan has two parts: Medicare Part A, which provides coverage for most of the costs associated with hospitalizations; and Medicare Part B, which covers doctor visits, lab tests, outpatient services, and preventive care.
Part A is free for most people who qualify for Medicare. You need to pay for part B. The standard premium this year is about $ 134 per month or $ 109 per month for most people whose premiums are deducted from their Social Security checks. However, the premium rate is higher if your income exceeds a certain limit. Both parties have deductibles and co-payments.
As the years went by, as private insurers began offering health maintenance organizations and preferred provider organizations, Congress decided that Medicare beneficiaries should also have that option. In 1997, he created Medicare Part C, or what is now known as Medicare Advantage plans. In these plans, you get coverage for Parts A and B of private insurance companies approved by Medicare.
2. Fill in the gaps in your insurance
In 2003, Congress addressed one of the major gaps in Medicare coverage: the costs of prescription drugs. Approved the creation of Medicare Part D, with low-cost plans that cover prescription drugs. If you decide not to enroll in Part D when you first meet the requirements, you will likely have to pay a penalty when you enroll, unless you have had “credible” prescription drug coverage from another source.
A challenge: Part D plans vary widely. For example, two plans may have very different co-payments for the same drug. Rethinking your coverage every year is a good financial decision, especially if your medication needs have changed.
CMS calculates that Part D premiums will cost an average of $ 33.50 per month in 2018, and it is the first time since 2012 that this average has gone down. There are many other costs you must pay when you have Medicare. For example, Medicare Part A covers 100% of the first 60 days of hospitalization. But beneficiaries of Original Medicare must pay a deductible for each hospitalization. In 2017, this deductible was $ 1,316.
There are a few solutions. Some have military health insurance or insurance from a current or former employer to help defray these costs. And there are government assistance programs, like Medicaid and the Medicare Savings Program, that help those who qualify to pay these costs.
3. Compare the prices
If you are a new participant and you are thinking about getting Original Medicare coverage, start by asking your current doctors if they accept patients who are Medicare beneficiaries. This way you can know if you will be able to continue watching them.
There are several ways to compare prices for a Medicare Advantage plan or a plan for Part D prescription drugs, but you may want to start with the Government Medicare Plan Finder. After you enter your information and preferences, it will give you a list of available plans in your area. These plans may vary in cost and coverage depending on the region. You can also get individual advice for free.
Based on that, you can compare the options to see what fits your needs, and also see the monthly premiums and other costs you will face. Then you can take the last step: complete the forms and present them.