8 Tips for Getting the Most Out of Your Medicare Plan

by Camilla Cheung on 11 November 2015 (0 comments)

The annual election period for making changes to your Medicare plan is from October 15 to December 7, which means that it is time to consider all your plan options. With your health at stake, it's important that you choose the Medicare plan that strikes the right balance between affordability and health benefits, and consider what kind of plan will best help you meet your health and financial goals. Even after the election window has closed, whether you’re looking for yourself or a family member, it's still worthwhile to do the research on ways to get the most from your current plan and which one to choose next year.
Consider the following tips to get the most from your Medicare plan:

1. Focus on Your Priorities

Everyone has different priorities and goals, and your personal plan should reflect that. Is keeping a low monthly premium and low out-of-pocket costs a priority for you? Do you want a plan that focuses on preventive care? Do you lead an active lifestyle and want a plan that provides fitness programs and benefits? Consider all your goals before choosing a Medicare plan.

2. Premium Costs and Hidden Costs

Compare overall costs among different plans by using the Medicare Plan Finder, and spend some time familiarizing yourself with the details of the plan. Be realistic about what services you are likely to use in the next year. A good place to start is to review which services you used the previous year, and factor those into your decision.

3. Benefit From Preventive Care

Choosing a plan with comprehensive preventive care benefits could keep you healthier by taking care of problems before they become serious. The great thing about many plans is that preventive care is offered at little to no cost. Statistics bolster the idea that preventive care saves lives. The CDC estimates that 200,000 deaths per year from heart disease and stroke alone could be prevented if people received the appropriate preventive care.

4. Know Your Network

Try not to get hung up on HMO or PPO alphabet soup. Focus on which doctors are in a Medicare plan's network. Choosing a primary care doctor and specialists within your network will help you keep costs down. And if you have particular doctors you want to see, you may want to choose a plan in which they are in-network. Going to a doctor outside your network can result in additional out-of-pocket costs, so staying informed about your network is vital for your bottom line.

5. Stay Active and Reap Rewards

My husband's grandmother is the epitome of staying fit while aging healthfully. Decades ago, she committed to walking at least two miles every morning. She is now in her nineties and still going strong. Keeping active is an essential part of staying healthy. Many Medicare plans offer fitness benefits — such as a free gym membership, and some even reward you financially for being active. If having an incentive to stay fit would help you reach your health goals, then it may be smart to consider plans with these added benefits.

6. Make Sure Your Drugs Are Covered

Costs for prescription medications can ramp up quickly if they're not covered under your insurance plan, leaving you with a hefty bill. To avoid unexpected expenses, make sure any drugs you need are covered under your plan, and check the quantity limits to ensure it covers the amount you require. Although brand-named drugs may come to mind first, generic versions do the same job and can save you a lot of money.

7. Be Informed about Changes to Your Plan

Just because your Medicare plan has worked for you before, doesn't mean it's the best fit for you now. Many plans change every year, so reading the Annual Notice of Change is essential as you decide if your current plan is still right for you. In addition, your needs may have changed. While it can be easier to simply go with your old plan, taking the time to re-evaluate each year can help you to reap the most benefit for your health and financial wellness.

8. Take Advantage of Free Resources

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services Plan Finder page is a great place to start learning about different Medicare plans. If you prefer more personal interaction, many insurance companies offer free information sessions and seminars about their Medicare plans. You can also contact insurance companies directly by telephone to find out more with no obligation.

Staying informed about your Medicare plan is one of your best tools for feeling great and achieving your health goals. And it can save you from financial surprises and the stress that would follow.

This article is sponsored by Cigna. This article is for educational purposes only and is intended to promote consumer health. It is not intended as financial or medical advice and you should always consult a professional for financial or medical advice. To learn more about getting the best Medicare coverage, visit http://www.cigna.com/cignamedicare/.

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