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Five Tips for Mindful Medicare Enrollment

By Musia F. Witkes

Medicare Annual Enrollment Period, also known as Open Enrollment, is a time for Medicare enrollees to review their current insurance and change to a better Medicare plan.

With a multitude of Medicare plans available, Annual Enrollment Period may seem more confusing and overwhelming than liberating.

Here are my top five tips for selecting the best plan for you:

Look at Open Enrollment as an opportunity. Take a deep breath and put yourself at ease. Now is the time to get the best possible health coverage! As a Medicare beneficiary, you may not have the ability to switch plans during most of the year. Open enrollment is the time to apply for a plan that may serve you better than your current plan does.

Assess your wants and needs. Have a good valuation of your current health situation before you start comparing Medicare plans. With this knowledge you’ll know at the outset which services are necessary to have in your plan.

Also, think about convenience. Your plan will dictate where you go for healthcare. Will your doctor be located at a convenient location? Are their hours flexible? Will you need prescription drugs? Which pharmacies can you use? Will you have medical coverage outside of the United States?

Making a list of your preferred requirements will make it easier to compare plans.

Know the difference between Original Medicare vs. a Medicare Advantage Plan. Original Medicare is offered by the federal government and covers Medicare Part A (hospital insurance) and Medicare Part B (medical insurance). Original Medicare has a large network of doctors from which to choose.

Original Medicare doesn’t cover everything. You can get more coverage by:

  • Buying Medicare Part D for prescription drugs.
  • Adding a Medigap policy in addition to your Original Medicare.
  • Choosing a Medicare Advantage Plan instead of Original Medicare.

A Medicare Advantage Plan (also known as Medicare Part C) is offered by a private Medicare-approved insurance company and includes Medicare Part A and Part B. Some providers offer extra services, like vision, dental, and gym memberships.

Stay up-to-date on important Medicare information. Medicare benefits change annually. It’s important to stay informed so that you know if your coverage or services will be affected. The plan that suited you last year may not be the best or most cost-effective going forward.

Speak with a professional knowledgeable about Medicare. The right Medicare agent should not only be able to educate you on a variety of Medicare plans, but should also be able to educate you on options based on your location, income and other factors that can affect your Medicare coverage. And the good news is, the services of a broker come at no cost to you.

Musia Witkes is an independent Medicare broker with Applied General Agency and can be reached at (760) 412.0046 or musiawitkes@gmail.com. CA license # 0K46508.

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