The Medicare Annual Enrollment Period (AEP) season is October 15th through December 7th each year. It is a time that Medicare beneficiaries can add, change, or drop their Medicare Advantage or Medicare Part D prescription drug plan. Medicare Advantage plans replace original Medicare Parts A & B with Medicare Part C.
Lives can change every year and one might need a new plan because of health issues, doctors, and hospitals; prescriptions may have changed if they are generic or brand names. Also, plans often change or new plans are added because competition is always driving health care plan improvements.
Original Medicare has deductibles and copays with no limits, and Medicare Advantage Plans put caps on out of pocket costs and often has policies with no premiums. Most Medicare Advantage Plans include prescription drugs; however, there are plans that do not include drug plans that Veterans find appealing, with $0 premiums that still allows them to use VA hospitals and doctors.
Medicare Advantage Plans or Part C Plans are HMOs and PPOs administered by insurance companies. HMOs normally have lower out of pocket costs, but everything is run through the primary care doctor and must stay within their network of doctors and hospitals. A PPO allows one to go to any doctor within the network without referrals from their primary care physician and must pay an extra fee to see a physician who is outside of the network.
Which plan is most suitable? Not all plans have the same doctors, hospitals, drug formularies, deductibles and copays. If doctors, hospitals and prescriptions drugs are important, one must find the best plan that meets needs and keeps costs down. An independent agent can help instead of a captive agent who represents only one company and its plans. A good independent agent would gather important information about who are the important doctors, hospitals and prescription drugs, and match them to the best plan. That plan might not be what is best for a neighbor, relative or friend.
Medicare Advantage Plans often include benefits not covered by original Medicare Parts A & B, like transportation, acupuncture, chiropractic, dental, vision, and fitness membership. It is important to review one’s current plan each year to see if it’s still the right fit. Simply stated, review and compare.
Personally, due to my needs, I am going to change plans during the AEP. I was happy with my plan, but am changing to another plan that has the same doctors, hospitals, and additional benefits, and will cost me $0 compared to my old plan of $42 per month, which is a $504 savings for the year. But, everyone is different and every plan is different.
Bob McMillan, a Medicare Specialist is a 7th generation Floridian who has an MBA in Finance from UWF, taught finance for Troy University, and has traveled the country examining insurance companies. He does this because he wants to add value to people’s lives and has seen firsthand how the right plans have saved and enriched lives. For more information contact Bob McMillan at 850-716-0037, firstname.lastname@example.org, or www.robertmcmillaninsurance.com
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