December 7, anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor and the last chance to review your Medicare choices. You can switch your 2017 coverage in or to a Medicare Advantage plan also known as Medicare Part C.
Keep in mind, loyalty doesn’t pay in the medical insurance world. Insurers change their offerings every year and that’s why it makes sense to compare plans every year although you might not want to do it.
Joe Baker of the Medicare Rights Center says, “Even people who are currently happy with their plan should review.”
WHAT MEDICARE ADVANTAGE OFFERS
Medicare Advantage typically includes a lot of extras including vision, dental, and wellness programs including gym memberships and some include prescription drugs.
You pay the regular Part B premium of $134.00 a month and then you want to compare prices. Insurers have different requirements. Some may charge a monthly premium and others may charge different fees.
You do want to make sure that you pick a plan that works for you. Medicare Advantage comes in several forms with different options. You can choose:
A Health Maintenance Organization, or HMO – It will require you to choose doctors and providers from a specific network and you must get a referral to see a specialist.
A Preferred Provider Organization, or PPO – You pay less if you use doctors and hospitals in the insurers network. And you pay more for those you use out of network.
A Private-Fee-For-Service plan, or PFFS – You can go to any doctor or hospital as long as they accept the plan’s fees and the plan determines how much it will pay.
WHO SHOULD USE MEDICARE ADVANTAGE
Experts say a Medicare Advantage program can work for you if the doctors, hospitals and medical providers accept the insurance, and if you don’t travel often. Generally, the plans do not cover doctors out-of-state or out of the country.
HOW TO FIND A PLAN
Medicare.gov offers a tool that will help you compare the plans available to you. It also provides ratings for plans and gives a plan one to five stars based on what it offers and how it actually works for consumers.
You can also call Medicare directly at 1-800-633-4227 and say “agent” if you need additional help.
It’s also a good idea to review the medications the insurer plans to cover in 2017. They may drop your medication and that’s a pretty good reason to seek out another company. The booklet they sent you announcing changes should include the “formulary.” That’s what insurers call their list of covered medications.
Make sure your medication appears on the list.