For older Individuals, health and physical well-being is often a very high priority. Once people hit 65, they become eligible for Medicare, a nationally run health insurance plan for the elderly.
While Medicare is generally considered to be a decent form of health coverage, it won’t necessarily cover all your needs by default. There are many different Medicare options available that may or may not be well-suited for your situation.
Navigating Medicare can be very complicated, which is why you should ask yourself these questions before you make any decisions.
When Is the Open Enrollment Period?
While you’re able to choose what kind of Medicare plan you want when you’re first eligible for the insurance (initial enrollment), you’ll be able to make changes down the line if you think a different version of coverage would be best for you.
Keep in mind though, you can only do this during specific times.
Any major changes to a Medicare plan usually can only take place during an open enrollment period. Open enrollment lasts from mid-October to early December on an annual basis.
It’s a good idea to think far ahead when choosing or switching plans since you won’t be able to fix any issues that might arise for an extended period of time.
What’s the Difference Between Advantage and Supplement Plans?
Due to the fact that Medicare doesn’t cover everything, it’s quite common for people to enroll in Advantage or Supplement plans. While these two types of plans serve a similar function, they operate much differently.
Medicare Advantage plans are forms of additional insurance that are designed to cover expenses within particular healthcare networks. This means that health insurance coverage will only be applied to certain affiliated healthcare facilities, oftentimes only found within the state that you reside in.
This is usually cheaper than going with a supplement plan, but the list of providers and specialists you have access to is limited by comparison. However, Advantage plans can come with some additional benefits, such as prescription drug coverage as well as dental or eyeglass insurance.
Supplement plans are generally more expensive, with higher monthly premiums. Compared to advantage plans they cover a lot more healthcare expenses, making them pretty comprehensive.
One of the biggest upsides though is that supplement plans are not limited to a particular network, allowing you to have access to a wide range of doctors in or out of the state that you live.
One major drawback to supplement plans is that prescription drug coverage doesn’t come with the package, requiring you to purchase additional insurance.
Is Medicare Part D Right For Me?
Medicare Part D is the aspect of Medicare that covers prescription drugs.
Part D is not automatically included in a wide range of plans, meaning that you’ll have to purchase it as an add-on.
Prescription drugs can get expensive, so having Part D is usually a good idea, although if you anticipate that won’t need it, then giving it a pass might be the way to go.
Which Healthcare Providers Will I Have Access To?
A major component of any Medicare plan is which doctors you’ll be able to see.
While there is a long list of considerations when it comes to doctor access, the two biggest are health conditions and local resource availability.
If you have a lot of complex health issues or live in a low-population state it would be a wise idea to get a plan with lots of provider access.
Where Can I Get Help with Making My Decisions?
While it’s possible to navigate Medicare on your own, the reality is that it’s really complicated.
Fortunately, there are lots of resources available to help you make important healthcare decisions, including medicare consultants.
Medicare consultants can help you pick out a Medicare plan as well as avoid certain pitfalls that limit your options and cost you more money than you need to spend.
Getting the Coverage You Need
Your health should always be a high priority and when you get older it can become a serious issue. It’s something to take seriously and while it’s hard to navigate, there’s a lot you can do to be prepared.