Make changes now

Times Chronicle & Public Spirit - - OPINION -

Medi­care and sup­ple­men­tal health cov­er­age pro­vide a safety net for those age S5 and upI but in­sur­ance cov­er­ageI at bestI can be con­fus­ing.

For the nearly 11TIMMM Mont­gomery County res­i­dents who are S5 years or older now is the time to think about KHDOWK FDUH FRYHUDJH, DV 2FW. 15 wDV WKH fiUVW GDy DnG DHF. 7 the last day those with Medi­care can make changes to their health in­sur­ance plans.

Fol­low­ing are tips from one in­sur­ance car­rier for those us­ing Medi­care.

• Even if you’re happy with your cur­rent cov­er­ageI it doesn’t hurt to com­pare plans. Most plans make changes ev­ery yearI so it’s worth check­ing even if you care­fully con­sid­ered plans last year. If you still like what you haveI do noth­ing and you’ll au­to­mat­i­cally be re-en­rolled in your cur­rent plan.

• Orig­i­nal Medi­care (Parts A and B) doesn’t cover ev­ery­thing. Take a look at your reg­u­lar monthly health care ex­penses and de­cide what plan cov­ers what you need at the best cost. Orig­i­nal Medi­care doesn’t cover ev­ery­thing and has no lim­its on out-of-pocket ex­penses.

• 0HGLFDUH $GYDnWDJH SODnV SURYLGH DGGLWLRnDO EHnH­fiWV. Medi­care Ad­van­tage plans (Part C) are an­other op­tion to orig­i­nal Medi­care. They pro­vide com­pre­hen­sive cov­er­age with fewer out-of-pocket costs than orig­i­nal Medi­care and of­ten in­clude cov­er­age for pre­scrip­tion drugs (Part D). 0HGLFDUH $GYDnWDJH SODnV DOVR RIIHU DGGLWLRnDO EHnH­fiWV, such as hear­ingI den­talI vi­sion ser­vicesI help manag­ing chronic con­di­tions such as di­a­betesI and ad­di­tional sup­port af­ter a hos­pi­tal­iza­tion.

• Check that your net­work in­cludes doc­tors and hos­pi­tals you will need. vour health needs can changeI so it’s best to think ahead to be sure you have easy ac­cess to qual­ity health care ser­vices.

• Make sure your plan cov­ers the med­i­ca­tions you take. If you’re buy­ing a Medi­care Pre­scrip­tion (Part D) planI check if there’s cov­er­age for your drugs in the “donut hole.” This is where you are re­spon­si­ble for a cer­tain per­cent­age of charges af­ter reach­ing your pre­scrip­tion cov­er­age limit and be­fore you reach the yearly out-of-pocket max­i­mum spend­ing limit.

• If pos­si­bleI don’t wait un­til the last minute to en­roll. The ex­tra time helps your in­sur­ance com­pany ver­ify your el­i­gi­bil­i­tyI get you prop­erly set up in their sys­temI or­der your ID cardI and en­sure a smooth tran­si­tion from OM1O to OM13.

• It’s Oh to change your mind. From Jan. 1 to Feb. 14I 0HGLFDUH EHnH­fiFLDULHV FDn FDnFHO WKHLU 0HGLFDUH $GYDn­tage plan and sign up for a Medi­care Sup­ple­mentI or re­turn to orig­i­nal Medi­care.

Where to go for help. A li­censed bro­ker can pro­vide you with all the in­for­ma­tion you need to make an in­formed de­ci­sion and even come to your home to ed­u­cate you. Al­soI many health plans of­fer community meet­ings about MediFDUH. CKHFN wLWK Dn LnVuUHU nRw WR finG RuW.

7KH RI­fiFLDO 8.6. JRYHUnPHnW VLWH IRU 0HGLFDUH, wKLFK Ln­cludes in­for­ma­tion on re­lated sup­ple­men­tal health plans is at www.medi­

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