Do you have Medicare?
As there will be changes to how much it costs for Medicare Part B and Part D plans, it can be worth your while to shop around and make sure you have coverage that works for you. Any changes you make to your Medicare coverage will take effect January 1.
Here’s a quick refresher on what exactly you get from your Medicare plan:
- Part A: Covers inpatient care in a hospital or other similar setting
- Part B: Covers outpatient care like doctor visits, blood tests, imaging tests, and durable medical equipment. Medicare Part A/B is referred to as Original Medicare and can be used with any provider who accepts Medicare. In 2016, the projected cost for Medicare Part B is $159.30 per month. However, there is currently an effort underway to get Congress to reduce the Part B premium cost for 2016. If you cannot afford the Part B premium, you can apply for help here.
- Part D: Covers prescription drugs and plans vary where you live. Plan costs will be based on the plan you choose. The Medicare Part D Plan deductible will jump to $360 in 2016, from $320 in 2015.
- Part C: Also called Medicare Advantage plans, they offer Medicare coverage under Parts A, B, and D, through a managed care plans (HMO or PPO). Plans vary based on where you live, but must provide the minimum coverage required by Medicare. Part C plans can be less expensive, but have limited provider choices.
- Medigap Plans: These are supplemental health insurance plans that pick up the 20% of medical expenses that you pay out of pocket under Part A/B, as well as other expenses not covered by Medicare (e.g., eyeglasses). You can view and compare the Medigap plans available to you where you live.
If you already have a Medicare Part D plan, be sure to review its current prescription drug coverage for any major changes to the prescriptions you take. If you are looking to enroll in a new or different Part D plan, compare your options here.
If you or a loved one is managing the costs of care due to cancer, understanding your Medicare options is especially important. Prescriptions used to help manage pain and nausea or to treat cancer can be costly and enrolling in the right prescription drug coverage is important. As you may have seen in the news, drug prices have been on the rise, and this includes drugs that are being used to treat cancer.
Something to be aware of as you look for Medicare coverage is the presence of fraud or scams. Here are some tips to avoid being a victim of fraud:
- Remember you do NOT have to change your plan if it still meets your needs.
- Beware of free prizes, trips, or other gifts offered in exchange for enrolling in a plan.
- Never give out your Medicare or Social Security number to someone unless you are certain of their credentials. (Rule of thumb: don’t give out personal information to someone who calls YOU, vs. someone that YOU call).
As you start looking for the right Medicare and Medigap plans that are right for you, you may have questions. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services and Medicare.gov are reliable resources to help answer any questions you may have.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Your family and friends may be able to help you make coverage decisions. Your health care team can also provide you with useful information about the prescription drugs or treatments that you may need now or in the future, so that you can make sure that you pick a plan that covers those things.
There are also community organizations who are available to help you navigate your Medicare choices, called State Health Insurance Assistance Programs. Click here to find the program where you live.
It never hurts to shop around, even just to get piece of mind that the plan that you already have is the best one for you.
Still have questions? Watch our webinar on Making Sense of the Medicare Maze: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FIg1nXYV66g