If you're 65 or older or turning 65 this year, we've got important information for you about Medicare Open Enrollment. It begins Tuesday and runs through December 7th. Our Katie Gibas tells you everything you need to know to choose the health plan that best fits your needs.
UNITED STATES -- Let's face it, health care is pretty confusing, especially when it comes to Medicare. With 228 Medicare Advantage plans and 31 Prescription Drug plans, the enrollment process can be pretty overwhelming.
"Take their time. Take a deep breath. It is a lot of information, but it can be understood a lot better just by talking to someone, getting your questions answered," said Heather Smith, the Excellus BlueCross BlueShield Medicare Sales Director.
First of all, if you're turning 65 in the next year and you still plan on working full time, you can continue with your employer provided health insurance. If you're planning on retiring, you need to make sure to sign up for Medicare within three months of your 65th birthday or face a penalty.
If you already have Medicare, you should review your plan to see if coverage or premiums have changed and see if the plan still fits your health needs. There are a few basic questions you should ask yourself.
"Are all of my doctors in the service area of the plan that I'm looking at? That's highly important for people. After that, you want to look at what is the quality of the plans, what is the star rating giving to that plan? What is the premium that I'm comfortable paying?" said Smith.
Plans without a monthly premium tend to have more out-of-pocket expenses and higher co-pays. Higher premiums usually mean lower co-pays and better benefits.
"We see that a lot of folks who are relatively healthy will pick the zero premium because they don't expect they'll use a lot of services. They're going to go to their primary care physician. Perhaps, they have a specialist that they see once or twice a year, but other than that, they don't expect to use many services. For those that are heavier uses, that may have several specialists, may use more services, they may not be comfortable with paying those co-pays as they go. So they may want a higher, fixed premium such as a supplement plan, so they don't have to pay those," said Smith.
Experts recommend talking to your doctors and friends about their experiences with different Medicare plans.
Again open enrollment runs from October 15th through December 7th. All plan changes will go into effect January first.
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services are reminding you to be safe about your personal information. You’ll start seeing brochures from companies that offer Medicare health and drug plans. Just remember, plan providers aren’t allowed to call or come to your home without an invitation from you.
For Medicare help, call 1-800-MEDICARE or find a Medicare informational seminar near you at excellusmedicare.com/seminar.
YNN: Medicare open enrollment begins Tuesday
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