Seniors who are approaching the age of 65 need to carefully consider how to choose a medicare health plan. Experts involved in taking care of the elderly recommend that seniors should opt for a health plan that has a committed team of medical doctors and specialists. But there are also several other things to consider when choosing medicare. Here are some of the most important ones:
1. Enroll at the Right Time
The best time to enroll for medicare is during the 3-month period just before or after you turn 65. If you decide to enroll after this period, you will have to pay a late-enrollment fee. However, once you are eligible for medicare, you can join the program or change your medicare plan during the open enrollment window between October 15 and December 7 every year. You may also enroll in a plan that has a 5-star quality rating at any time of the year.
2. Check the Quality of Doctors
You need to be sure that the doctors you are currently using will be part of the network of your medicare advantage plan. The list of approved doctors and health care centers, for each plan, change regularly. Insurance companies may narrow down their doctors, specialists and hospitals to save cost. So you should ask your doctor if he has registered to participate in the plan for the present or coming year. If your doctor opts out, you may be faced with higher medical bills which your insurer will not bear.
3. Know When to Select Medicare or Medicare Advantage
Medicare and Medicare Advantage Plans have their pros and cons. If you have been on a medicare advantage plan and you suddenly develop a medical condition that requires care by specialists, it may be better to switch back to a basic medicare plan that gives you access to more doctors and specialists. However, you will be required to pay more than your medicare advantage plan.
4. Ensure Your Drugs are Covered
When you have been placed on medications by your physician, you should make sure they are included in the plan you want to choose. Each medicare advantage plan has a “formulary” which contains their list of approved drugs. Plans usually add and remove medications. So, when you search for any health plan online, be sure to include all your prescription drugs.
5. Use the Quality Rating
The federal government has been gracious enough to rate medicare plans. So, you should use this rating to choose a high quality plan that will meet your needs. The rating ranges between 1 and 5 stars. Less than 5% of the medicare advantage plans have a 5-star rating while about 35% have rating of 4.5 or 4 stars. You are free to join a 5-star plan at almost any time of the year, but the plan must be available in the state where you live.
These tips will help you to make an informed choice when you need to select a medicare health insurance plan. However, remember that if you are not satisfied with one plan, you have the option to move to another one at the appropriate time of the year.