How to Shop for Medicare Health and Drug Plans
When you shop for a new car or truck, you don’t just buy the first one you see, do you?
Probably not. You shop around, looking for the best deal you can get on a vehicle that fits your driving needs as well as your pocketbook.
Well, it’s the time of year when you can shop for a Medicare health or drug plan.
Medicare’s open enrollment period begins Oct. 15 and runs through Dec. 7, 2018.
If you have Original Medicare, meaning that you can choose any doctor or hospital that accepts Medicare, you don’t need to think about open enrollment.
But if you have a Medicare Advantage (Part C) health plan, or a Medicare (Part D) prescription drug plan, you may want to see whether there’s another plan on the market that would be a better match for you, at a lower price.
If you’re enrolled in a plan and you’re happy with it, you don’t need to do anything.
But Medicare health and drug plans – run by private insurers approved by Medicare – can change from year to year. A plan can raise its monthly premium or drop a medicine that you need.
So it makes good sense to review your coverage each year. Make sure your plan still is a good fit for you in terms of cost, coverage, and quality. If it isn’t, look for another plan.
During open enrollment, you can sign up for a Medicare Advantage health plan or Part D prescription drug plan, or switch from one plan to another. Your new coverage will take effect Jan. 1, 2019.
How do you shop for a new plan? One way is the “Medicare & You” handbook, mailed each fall to every Medicare household in the country. This booklet lists all the Medicare health and drug plans available where you live, along with basic information such as premiums, deductibles, and contacts. There’s also the Medicare Plan Finder, at www.Medicare.gov.
Look for a green button that says, “Find health & drug plans.” Click on that, plug in your zip code, and you’ll see all of the Medicare Advantage and Part D plans available in your area. You can compare them based on benefits, premiums, co-pays, and estimated out-of-pocket costs. Contact information for the plans is listed.