October through December is the open enrollment period for Medicare beneficiaries. This is the time to decide whether to remain paying the Medicare premium for primary coverage, add a secondary supplement, or sign up for a Medicare Advantage plan. The choices can be confusing, and often plans don’t spell it out in a way that’s easy to navigate. Which to choose?
Medicare coverage alone without any supplement will require you to meet a deductible before the plan begins to pay a percentage or (coinsurance). Most preventative, and screening services are covered at 100%, but keep in mind you will always owe a portion of your medical care if you stick with this coverage only.
Supplemental secondary plans are available to pick up what would normally be your responsibility after Medicare pays. These plans require an additional premium payment, and in some cases have a separate deductible to meet. The caveat is that they will only allow what Medicare allows, so if a service is not covered by Medicare, the supplement will follow suit.
Medicare Advantage plans are available under commercial payer names such as Blue Cross or Aetna and replace your Medicare coverage. These can get a bit tricky in that many require referrals, and authorization to seek specialty care, making it necessary to establish with a primary care provider. Also, these plans are often co-pay driven, and some even have separate copays for multiple services performed during a visit. When making the decision to sign up for this type of coverage, research each plan carefully, and ask questions.
Getting an insurance agent can be a great way to make an informed decision about your healthcare. After all, it is YOUR money, and an agent can break down the plan types to help you decide which is best for you. The cost of medical care seems to become increasingly expensive, and planning your coverage options ahead can help save your hard earned dollars in the future.