Prepare for Medicare Annual Enrollment

Medicare recipients face more options than ever before this annual enrollment period (AEP) as carriers roll out plans with rich benefits, zero-dollar premiums, and even Part B premium payments. So how should you narrow down the many options? Here are some things to look for when considering a change of plan.

  1. Look beyond the tricks. The plan can have a lot of benefits, but if your doctor isn’t in the network, or if the network is too thin, you’ll have a hard time finding providers, it may not be worth all of these “extras.”
  2. Look at the ANOC, the annual notice of changes, to see if your plan is still the best for you. If your premium or deductible goes up or out of your pocket, you might consider a change. See also changes in benefits. Have your joint loans and co-insurance increased? Are your medications still covered in the plan’s prescription booklet?
  3. Plans change networks frequently, so make sure your doctor is still in the plan’s network. Also, look to any specialist you’ve been meeting with to make sure they’re still in the network, too. Remember, if you go out of the net, with most benefit plans, you won’t be covered.
  4. Some plans have special features such as low-cost insulin for diabetics. These plans cap insulin costs at $35 or less. There are also plans now for those with end-stage kidney disease that will help cover the cost of dialysis and plans for those with chronic medical conditions such as heart disease. If you have any of these conditions, these plans are worth researching.
  5. There are also rich plans for those who use Medicare and Medicaid. These plans help coordinate care, give you additional benefits, such as transportation to and from doctors’ appointments and meals after a hospital stay, and make it easy to find providers that accept both Medicare and Medicaid.
  6. Not all plans are available in all areas. Plans are divided into service areas (usually counties) that are specific to that area. Make sure you’re looking for plans in your area when comparing benefits, pricing, and provider networks.

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