How to Choose a Medicare Plan

Reaching the age 65 will give you automatic Medicare eligibility. But contrary to popular belief, this health plan is not for free, and you have to understand everything about it before signing up. Otherwise, you’ll find it very expensive.

Even if you’ve been on Medicare for a long time, re-evaluating your options yearly will make sure you still have the right plan. The yearly open enrollment period, during which you can switch plans when you want to, is from October 15 to December 7.

If you have a Medicare Part D drug plan or a Medicare Advantage plan, it becomes particularly important to go through your options yearly, considering that these two policies change features features from time to time, such as deductibles, copay amounts, covered drugs and the rest.

Medicare plans come in four different classifications:

Part A (Hospital Care, Skilled Nursing, Hospice and Some Home Health Care)

This Part is free for those who have a Social Security work history of no shorter than 10 years, and their premium will be dictated by the number of Social Security work credits they have.

Part B (Doctor Visits, Preventive Care, Outpatient Care And Hospitals, And Some Home Health Care)

In 2018, this averages to $134/month for most beneficiaries who yearly earnings do not exceed $85,000 ($170,000 for couples), and up to $428.60 for whose with annual incomes of $214,000 ($428,000 for a couple) or more. Like most people, you might need a Medicap plan aside from Parts A & B.

Part C – Medical Advantage Plan

You will find private companies partnering with Medicare to offer a combination of Part A and Part B coverage, with some plans even providing Part D benefits. Premiums differ according to plan and region, but the Medicare Advantage plan average in 2018 is $30, lower by 6% from the past year.

Part D – Prescription Drugs

Premiums average $33.50 in 2018, which is less than 2017’s $34.70.

The first important decision Medicare beneficiaries must make is whether they shoudl go for traditional coverage (Parts A, B and D) or a Medical Advantage plan (Part C). Medical Advantage plans can have low or zero monthly premiums, but they often restrict members to certain doctors and hospitals. These two options have deductibles, copoays and coinsurance, which requires you to shoulder a part of the bill.

If you choose traditional Medicare, you can just add a Medicap policy, which is a supplemental policy that takes care of what isn’t covered by Medicare. There are 10 types of Medicap policies, each offered by a private company or group, and their costs differ significantly. You’d like to review each plan as thoroughly as possible in order to make the smartest choice.

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