What to consider when shopping around for the best health plan
Determine whether your Medicare Advantage plan is really working for you.
Choosing a health plan is an investment – in both your health and your finances. For that reason, it’s always a good idea to shop for the best plan at the best price. Even if your current plan’s premiums will be lower next year, you should still look at all of your options. Many Medicare Advantage plans have decreased their premiums, and you could save even more money by shopping wisely.
Here are some questions to determine whether your Medicare Advantage plan is really working for you:
Are you leaving money on the table?
With some Medicare Advantage plans, wellness visits and screenings are covered at 100% from day one. If you don’t take advantage of these important screenings – like annual physicals, mammograms and colonoscopies – you are literally leaving money on the table. Not to mention that early detection could save your life.
Are you paying for benefits you’re not using?
You’d be surprised. Take inventory of the benefits you use and those you don’t. Then look for a plan that offers what you need at a price you can afford. Gone are the days when getting dental, vision, hearing and prescription coverage automatically meant a higher premium. It’s possible to find a plan with a $0 premium that also offers $0 copays for office visits, telehealth services and annual dental, vision and hearing exams.
Are you making the most of your network?
Some people prefer a preferred provider organization (PPO) over a health maintenance organization (HMO) because they want the flexibility to go “out of network” if they want to. You usually pay extra in monthly premiums for this flexibility. If all of your doctors and hospitals are in the HMO network, why should you pay more?
If choice and flexibility are important to you, look for a plan with a network that includes a wide variety of primary care physicians while also offering a broad network of specialists and health care facilities from which to choose.
Are you taking advantage of every program or discount your health plan has to offer?
Different insurers offer different programs, so it’s important to pick the one that best fits your lifestyle, needs and budget. But these programs and discounts are only valuable if you take advantage of them.
Some insurers, including HAP, offer Silver&Fit, which gives Medicare Advantage members the option of using a fitness center, home fitness kit, a mobile app or fitness device. If this is important to you, look for a plan that offers this program for a $0 annual fee.
Could you use an over-the-counter allowance?
If following doctor’s orders is getting expensive, look for a plan that offers an over-the-counter benefit that can be used to purchase essentials like blood pressure monitors, diabetic socks, incontinence supplies, or even cough and cold remedies. Having an allowance that pays for these items can result in significant cost savings.
Do you have someone who can help you?
Health insurance is complicated. Never be afraid to ask for help, because asking the right questions not only allows you to take better control of your own health and wellness, but it also helps you get the best return on investment from your health plan.
Members of the editorial and news staff of The Detroit News were not involved in the creation of this content.