Medicare provides senior care coverage for millions of older Americans. The program offers a variety of coverage selections through the various “Parts” of the program and through advantage policies. These plans offer a combination of the Medicare coverage with private insurances.
Know Your Current Plan
You may not have had any problems with your current Medicare coverage, but that doesn’t mean it is the best option for you. Know what is covered by your current coverage and what your responsibilities are for co-pays or deductibles. Know what you pay in premiums and what you pay out of pocket for medical care. This can include prescription drug costs and coverage for non-covered services as well as deductibles.
Research Other Options
Would a small increase in premiums result in a large reduction in health care costs you pay? Check, for example, what coverage is available for prescription drugs you take? Medicare representatives can create a report containing the costs and benefits of various insurance products if you supply them with a list of your drug prescriptions. Ask questions about participating doctors and clinics. Some Medicare Advantage plans limit which physicians a patient can visit.
The staff at the local Medicare office can provide reports based on your location. You may want to research coverage costs and benefits for multiple locations if you reside in different parts of the country during the year. This is of particular importance to northern residents who travel south for the winter.
The other variable is difficult to predict. What medical problems will you suffer next year? Will you need senior care services? Most Medicare recipients base their choices for next year’s coverage based on their current medical situation and prescription drugs. If you have reason to believe your medical condition will change, you may want to include that information in the Medicare decision process.
Make the Change
Once you determine which policy provides you with the best value in senior care make the change. This can be arranged through a representative of the company offering the Medicare Advantage Plan or through the Medicare representatives for standard Medicare coverage. Changes take effect on Jan. 1, 2013.