Money in the Middle

Sandwich Generation Talking About Money Up, Down and Across Generations

Manuevering the Medicare Open Period

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Take a deep breath.  It’s the one time of year when you can change Medicare Advantage or Medicare Part D plans. That can be good news, but it’s not stress free.

This year is even more stressful for thousands of people who are receiving notice that their plan is being discontinued and they have to select another Medicare plan.   If you or a family member whom you are assisting is in this position, start looking at options right away.

Here are some things to consider:

  • If you have been in a private fee-for-service plan that has been cancelled and want to move to original Medicare (Part A and Part B) and purchase a Medicare Supplement plan and Part D plan, you probably won’t have to go through underwriting.  But ask, and make sure you know the deadlines by which you need to apply.
  • Medicare Part D – most plan price increases have been modest, but if your health condition has changed during the past year and your medications have changed, it might be worth comparing your plan to others.  One key is the “formulary” that is the list of drugs and how the insurance plan covers each drug.  The differences can be dramatic.  The medicare.gov site has a part D plan comparison tool that can be very helpful in deciding whether to change plans.
  •  Don’t just look at the premium.  Look at out-of- pocket costs, deductible and co-pays – especially for Medicare Advantage and Part D plans – when you are doing your comparisons
  •  Remember, if you have just Medicare part A and Part B that will only cover about 80% of your health care costs.  A Medicare Supplement Plan and Part D close that gap. Generally, you have a wide choice of doctors and hospitals who accept these plans. 

Medicare Advantage plans wrap Part A., Part B and Part D (Usually) together.  The premiums are usually lower, but you’ll be restricted to a network of doctors and face more out-of-pocket co-pays.

 There’s no right or wrong plan—it depends upon your health care needs and preferences. That makes it harder, but also more important to take the time to look at options.  Given, the escalating cost of health care it’s more important than ever to make sure you have the best plan for your health care needs.

As the end of the year deadline approaches, it can be harder to reach companies for information.  So start now.

Find more resources at http://www.medicare.gov

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Written by Laura Rossman

October 12, 2009 at 2:00 pm

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