Money in the Middle

Sandwich Generation Talking About Money Up, Down and Across Generations

Switching Medicare Plans? Get Info Now!

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Even if you aren’t eligible for Medicare, you know that something is going on with the volume of advertisements about Medicare Advantage and Medicare Supplement plans.  It must be about every other ad on cable TV.

What’s going on?

We are in the annual enrollment period for Medicare Part D Prescription Drug plans and Medicare Advantage plans. Marketing started October 1. Plans can be switched from Nov. 15 to Dec. 31.

So if you’ve already got coverage, why would you want to switch or help your elder change plans?  Because the marketplace is changing – and will probably be changing some more if and when the health care reform bill passes.

While many have found Medicare Advantage to be cost effective and packed with extras (gym memberships, vision and dental discounts), but the product is changing.  So read your benefits carefully.

Some insurance companies have cancelled Medicare Advantage plans leaving policy holders to find new coverage.  Others have increased premiums or co-pays.  So that now the price difference between a Medicare Advantage plan and some of the Medicare supplement plans may not be as great.

It’s not clear what we’ll see in the future, but many of these plans may look much different from when you shopped them two or three years ago.

Here’s a good article from the NY Times about examining your Medicare health plan options.

I’d add to their recommendations to make sure you get quotes from a couple of different companies.  For example, Medicare Supplement plans are standardized which means plan benefits are the same no matter what the company.  But the prices sure aren’t. Over a year you could be paying hundreds of dollars more from one company than another.  So shop and compare Medicare health plans. 

If you’ve had retiree insurance from your employer and this is your first venture into the Medicare health plan maze, you might want to work with a broker who specializes in Medicare health plans.  Make sure they are experienced and can show you a couple different companies and plans.

And Part D plan formularies – the list of drugs that are covered at what rate – change too.  So if your medications have or will be changing, you might want to look at other part D plans to see if the one you have is still right for your needs.

And always check with your doctor accepts the plan you are considering.

So don’t delay. the sooner you get the information, the sooner you can make a decision and not get caught in the last-minute chaos of getting your application in on New Years Eve.

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Written by Laura Rossman

November 4, 2009 at 8:05 pm

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