Medicare: Getting your money’s worth

Thankfully, all of the political ads are over for this year and on December 7th, most of the ads regarding Medicare Insurance will end as well.   It’s good that there is a lot of information available about Medicare, but I have found that many people only pay attention when they are first eligible for Medicare- usually when they turn 65- and often rely on what a friend or relative has told them.

It’s easy to get overwhelmed with all of the options, companies and plans and just give up.  That’s not a good idea.  Original Medicare has been going strong for 53 years and it is a benefit that we have earned by paying into it all of our working life.   Medicare taxes have been paid by us and our employer, and when we apply for Part B- the outpatient benefit- we pay a premium of $135.50 for 2019.

Since we have paid, and continue to pay, it is a good idea to be sure that we are getting the most for our money.  It’s surprising that there are still lots of people that just have Part A and B and don’t realize that they will be penalized if they don’t have a prescription drug plan after they turn 65.  Or, they pay for a stand- alone prescription drug plan (part D) without realizing that it could be cheaper if they had a Medicare Advantage Plan that includes Part D. plus many benefits not covered with original Medicare.

This area is fortunate to have many high quality Medicare Advantage Plans with no or low cost premiums.  You can add one or make changes until December 7th every year- but a new law this year allows you to move from one Advantage Plan to another Advantage Plan during the months of January, February, and March.  If you don’t change then, you will need to wait until October 15th of next year, and the change will go into effect in January 2020.

So, do a little homework and compare your plan to others in the area and be sure you are getting the most for your money.   Medicare.gov is a great resource to compare plans, or consult with a local independent Medicare Insurance Agent. 

Don’t only look for the monthly premium price, but compare co-pays, extra benefits and the network.   It doesn’t matter how much the plan costs if you can’t see the doctors and be treated at the hospitals that you want.

For most people – one of the good things about turning 65 is being able to get an excellent health insurance plan with a low premium and no deductible.