Medicare’s open enrollment is October 15 – December 7. Even if you’re choosing a Medicare plan for the first time or evaluating your current plan, it’s more important than ever to have the right Medicare plan for you.
A 2016 study shows that a 65-year-old retiree couple needs over $288,400 in savings just to cover health care premiums throughout retirement. This doesn't include out-of-pocket costs (dental, vision, hearing aids, etc.). That means that having a strategy for managing health care expenses in retirement is essential.
Many people believe that Medicare is free and will cover 100% of health care costs once they retire, but estimates indicate that in general, Medicare only covers about half of health costs. So how can you effectively manage your health care dollars in retirement? One of the best ways is by selecting the right health plan for your unique needs.
Navigating All of Your Options
Picking the health plan that fits your needs and budget is important and can be the difference between having affordable coverage when you need it or having expensive medical bills that must be paid out of pocket. But the number of options available can make it difficult to know which is right for you. To make things even more confusing, new plans are appearing in different areas, and TV advertisements and mail tout various benefits and costs...it can be overwhelming!
On top of all the options, Medicare enrollees also have to deal with all the plan change that occurs from year to year. Insurance companies use the open enrollment period to make any needed changes to their plan offerings, which they communicate to plan members through the Annual Notice of Change. It is highly important that you review this document when you receive it in the mail (typically by the end of September or in early October) so that you know what changes are coming to your plan’s costs and/or benefits.
And because your needs can also change from year to year, it becomes even more critical that you go through the plan review process each year. Here are some examples of changes to your situation that could affect how much you pay out of pocket each year:
- Your doctor prescribed a new medication that is no longer covered by your plan’s formulary
- Your doctor is no longer included in your plan’s network
- You moved to a new area where your plan is not offered
These are just a couple examples of how your needs could change and have an effect on your health care costs.
Reviewing Your Plan Each Year
Because both the plans and your needs can change each year, it is important that you perform an annual health plan review. Going through this process each year will help ensure that you are using your health care dollars as efficiently as possible and that you aren’t caught by any unpleasant surprises in coverage or cost.
Things you need to consider and research include:
- What will my plan’s monthly premium be?
- What will my maximum out-of-pocket limit be?
- Have any of my benefits changed?
- Do I plan to take any big trips for which I’ll need more than emergency coverage?
- Are all of my doctors still included in my plan’s provider directory?
- Is my hospital still included in my plan’s provider directory?
- Are all of my prescriptions still covered?
- Have any of my prescriptions changed classification tiers (making them more expensive)?
- Is there a plan out there that would provide the same or better coverage at a lower cost?
- Did my plan provide the customer service that I needed when issues arose?
All of these factors and more are things you need to consider each year by looking through your Annual Notice of Change, reviewing provider directories, reviewing your formulary, and doing research online to look at other plans.
If you’re feeling overwhelmed by this process, you are not alone. Many people do not realize that there are resources available to help you through this process each year, which is exactly what our experts do.
When You Need to Think About Your Plan
Your opportunity to make sure you have the right plan for your needs is during Medicare’s open enrollment period (Oct. 15 – Dec. 7). We recommend that you either find help from an advisor you trust or that you find the time to do important research on your own.
We see a great number of individuals during this time of year who do nothing, and we understand why:
- The number of options is overwhelming
- The details are confusing
- Ultimately, if you’re happy with your plan, it’s easier not to change
But it is important to review your situation every year. It may even be good to get a second opinion on the right Medicare plan for you.
Paying attention to these changes helps ensure that you are informed about your plan and will not be surprised by any unexpected expenses.
Finding the Right Medicare Plan for You
At RetireMED®iQ, we understand the frustration of selecting a health plan. Our goal is to simplify the confusion and make finding the right plan easy and stress-free.
Our staff of experts are trained and highly knowledgeable in the Medicare market so that you don’t have to be. Through RetireMED®iQ, you get unbiased advice and help at no cost to you as well as:
- One-on-one health plan advice
- Help signing up for the health plan of your choice
- Annual advice during Medicare’s open enrollment
- Year-round support with complex health plan issues
Currently, more than 25,000 area retirees and counting look to us each year for help. It’s our mission to always do the right thing for each client every time.
If you or someone you know is interested in the services of RetireMED®iQ, getting started is easy. Simply visit www.retiremediq.com/getstarted to securely complete your Preference Profile today or call us at 1-844-388-6565.
Read More: What is a Preference Profile?
Whether or not you have an advisor, it's important to be sure you have the right coverage. It can make a huge difference in your annual health care expenses and give you great peace of mind.