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With the Medicare Annual Enrollment Period (AEP) underway, this is a good time to talk about what considerations should be made regarding your Medicare plans. The AEP runs from October 15th through December 7th, which means there’s just under a month left to make final decisions on the plans you qualify for.

The upcoming years plan information was released on October 1st to give Medicare beneficiaries time to review any changes for the next year. Applications for Medicare Advantage Plans and/or Prescription Drug Plans must be completed over the next three weeks as the deadline is December 7th. Note there are some exceptions to this deadline for those that may qualify for a Special Enrollment Period.

So what should you be looking for when it comes time to make changes – or not make changes? Here are the top five aspects of Medicare to look into during this very important time of choosing health insurance plans.

Understand The Plans

Even people that have been on a plan for years can still get confused about what the different Medicare parts cover, what supplemental insurance covers (Medigap Plans), and just how it all fits together. Add in changing laws, coverages down to the county level, and in-network doctors, it can be stressful.

Here is a quick rundown of Medicare Parts and what they cover:

  • Part A: Covers hospital stays, nurse care, and hospice care in some cases. However, it is not all-inclusive.
    Part B: Covers necessary doctor services, outpatient services, and other services not covered by Part A. Again, not all-inclusive.
    Part C (also known as Medicare Advantage): Must cover the same as Parts A and B, but can include vision, preventative care, and more. A premium is paid for this part.
    Part D: Covers needed prescriptions, but also requires a premium.

Upcoming Changes

A lot can happen over the course of a year. Doctors may drop out of network while other doctors move in. Drug formularies for your plan might be modified. There’s always the chance of cost increases, with copays or out of pocket expenses. In addition to the plans changing, your personal needs may also change.

Once you know exactly what’s available, and what isn’t, you’ll be prepared to make informed decisions for the annual election period. After all, nobody likes surprises, especially when it comes to the quality and cost of their healthcare.

Provider Networks

Over the past few years, we have seen many instances where doctors may be in network with a plan for one year, but they all of a sudden are out of the network for the next year. This change or event can be initiated by either the providers or the insurance plans and can be a stressful situation.

The first thing to remember is that you may very well have other plan options available to you that your doctor will be in network with for the next year. An Independent Agent should be able to help you learn about those options and compare them to what you had.

Should other plan options not be a good fit for you or you really want to keep your plan, you can always look for other providers who are in network with your plan that will meet your needs.

Out Of Pocket Expenses

Depending on the Medicare plans you choose, out of pocket costs can vary widely. In addition to personal needs, will your selected plan meet your financial needs?​ Have medication prices risen? If you are making any changes, how will they affect your bottom line?

Choose a Qualified Insurance Agent

When choosing an insurance agency to help you wade through your Medicare coverage and additional plan options such as Medicare Advantage, Medigap plans, and Part D Prescription Drug plans, it’s important to do your research. Are they readily available to answer questions? Do they keep you aware of upcoming dates, such as the AEP, Medicare open enrollment periods, and other important dates? Will they work directly with your new doctor to make sure the transition is an easy one?

Consider VibrantUSA. Since 2003, we’ve been helping Medicare patients choose, update, and make changes to their plans. We are an independent insurance agency, which means we are able to choose from more than 50 Medicare and Medicare Advantage plan options from more than 30 national and regional health care insurance carriers.

This gives us the flexibility to choose options that best serve our clients and save them as much money as possible. Our clients can be sure that we’ll work to get them the best plans for the best prices. Why? Because we are contracted with most of the plans available in Washington, Oregon and Texas.

Our clients also don’t have to worry about hidden costs or fees because, in reality, we don’t receive any money from our patients at all! We are paid by the insurance companies, receiving compensation no matter what plans our patients choose.

This allows gives us the freedom to give our clients all the information available to make good decisions with their health care. If you’re already on Medicare but are unaware changes to your plans, or this is the first time working with Medicare, VibrantUSA will work to get the best plans for you. Contact us today.

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