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Most of us shop around before making a big purchase. We visit a variety of websites, ask friends for advice, read online reviews, and compare one option with another. That’s why a new statistic from WellCare is so surprising: 62 percent of seniors don’t review or shop around for Medicare Advantage plan options during open enrollment.
For most older adults, healthcare is their biggest expense, accounting for as much as 40 percent of their income. Men are more likely to review their Medicare options than women, but research shows neither group sees it as a priority. In fact, seniors spend more time comparison shopping for car insurance and cable television than they do for a Medicare plan.
According to Kaiser Health, seniors who do make time to shop around find themselves saving an average of $200 a year. Over 20 years, that can result in a savings of $4,000. This is a significant amount for an older adult on a fixed income.
So, how can you explore your Medicare options and make sure you are enrolling in a plan that offers you the best value at the most economical price?
We have a few suggestions you might find helpful.
Exploring Your Medicare Advantage Plan Options
Our first suggestion is to review the Annual Notice of Change letter you should have received in the mail from your current Medicare Advantage plan. Your provider is required to inform you of any changes they are making with regard to pricing, physicians, hospitals, and other plan details. This will give you an idea on how much you should expect to spend in the year ahead if you stick with your current plan.
Next, head over to the Medicare Plan Finder tool on Medicare’s official website. You will need your current plan identification number, a list of your medications, as well as your preferred pharmacy, physicians, and hospitals. The tool will walk you through entering your personal information step-by-step.
Once you have everything entered, the site’s database will match you with a list of plan options near you. The plans will be sorted by their annual cost to participants, but it’s important not to let price be the only factor you use to select a provider.
What else should you consider when choosing a Medicare Advantage plan?
Here are a few factors to take in to consideration:
If you are struggling to navigate your way through what seems like a maze of Medicare Advantage plans, help is available.
Every state has an experienced group of volunteers who offer free one-on-one counseling to help seniors. It is known as the State Health Insurance Assistance Program, more commonly referred to as SHIP. Visit the SHIP website to locate personal assistance near you.