Health Info & Resources for Seniors
It’s picking season— Medicare Open Enrollment runs from October 15–December 7. Picking a plan is an important and personal decision. Each person has a unique set of priorities. When you sit down to review your Medicare health and drug plan choices this year, keep track of the things you may want in a plan, and pick one that’s right for you.
Here are some things to keep in mind while you consider your choices:
Does the plan cover the services you need?
Future health care needs can be hard to predict, but changes happen. Make sure you understand what services and benefits you’re likely to use in the coming year and find coverage that meets your needs. Although you may not have a specific need at the moment, you need to assume that as time goes on and we get older, it is more rather than less likely that you may need medical services. Protect yourself from catastrophic complications arising from a major illness.
If you have other types of health or prescription drug coverage, make sure you understand how that coverage works with Medicare. And, if you travel a lot, look to see if your plan covers you when you’re away from home. Drug prices can fluctuate wildly depending on certain conditions. Spend time familiarizing yourself with your Medicare options.
No matter what plan you pick, you’ll get these benefits:
A discount of 60% on covered brand-name drugs if you reach the Part D prescription drug coverage gap (“donut hole”)
A free yearly “wellness” visit, so you can sit down with your doctor and talk about your health concerns and the best ways to stay healthy. If you do not see a doctor regularly due to cost, take advantage of this free benefit. It can help avert major medical bills in the future.
A host of preventive tests and screenings—including cancer screenings—most at no cost to you. Again this benefit can detect problems before they become significant health issues.
What’s the cost?
The lowest-cost health plan option might not be the best choice for you—consider things like the cost of premiums and deductibles, how much you pay for hospital stays and doctor visits, and whether it’s important for you to have expenses balanced throughout the year. No one can predict the future. But you can minimize anxiety in the future if you have a plan that works for you from both a medical and financial point of view.
How about convenience?
Your time is valuable. Ask yourself these questions: Where are the doctors’ offices? What are their hours? Which pharmacies can you use? Can you get prescriptions by mail? Do the doctors use electronic health records or prescribe electronically?
Quality is important!
Not all health care is created equal, and the doctors, hospitals and facilities you choose can impact your health. Open Enrollment is also a good time to ask yourself whether you’re truly satisfied with your medical care. Look for plans with a 5‑star performance rating—the right expertise and care can make a difference.
Remember, even if you’re happy with your current plan, these answers might change from year to year, so it’s important to take the time to compare. The Medicare Plan Finder (https://www.medicare.gov/find-a-plan/questions/home.aspx?AspxAutoDetectCookieSupport=1) makes it easy to compare plans based on all of these factors, so you can pick a plan that meets your needs.