Find the right Medicare Advantage plan with these 9 tips
This is a great time to shop for a Medicare Advantage plan. There really are $0 plans with $0 deductibles and $0 copays. And insurers continue to add benefits that make it easier for you to get the tests, screenings and treatment you need to stay healthy. We want to make sure that nothing stands in the way of you getting the care you need.
With so many good options available, here are some tips at things to consider when finding the plan that’s right for you:
Network. Make sure your doctors are in the plan’s network. Some people prefer a PPO over an HMO because they want the flexibility to go “out of network” if they choose 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?
Preventive services. With some Medicare Advantage plans, wellness visits and screenings are covered at 100% from day one. It’s important to take advantage of these screenings, like annual physicals, mammograms and colonoscopies, because early detection could save your life.
Vision, hearing and dental. It’s important to maintain your hearing, vision and dental health because these are tied to your overall health and wellbeing. Look for a plan that offers these annual exams for a $0 copay.
Prescription drug coverage. Most seniors take one or more prescriptions on a regular basis, so a Medicare Advantage plan that includes Part D prescription drug coverage makes sense. Look for a plan that has a $0 premium and a low or no deductible. If you have chronic conditions and are taking numerous prescriptions, look for an insurer that offers a free review of your medications to make sure you know exactly how and when to take each one.
Over-the-counter allowance. Medicare patients are often encouraged by their doctors to invest in at-home devices to monitor and maintain their health. These devices might include a blood pressure monitor, digital thermometer, humidifier, diabetic socks or even a scale. Look for a plan that offers an over-the-counter allowance that can be used to purchase these essentials, because it could result in significant cost savings. HAP, for example, offers an allowance of up to $400 per year to be used on over-the-counter items.
Gym and fitness memberships. Staying active is important, but gym fees can add up. Look for a Medicare Advantage plan that offers a program like Silver&Fit, which gives you access to local fitness centers or at-home fitness kits at little or no cost.
Travel benefit. If you’re a “snowbird” who makes extended trips south or has a seasonal home outside of Michigan, make sure your plan will extend its coverage to that area. Some insurers offer the same coverage and copays in places like Florida, Arizona or Texas for up to six months a year.
Work with a professional. Don’t be afraid to ask for help, because insurers and agents know that insurance is complicated. These professionals will take the time to walk you through your options.
Do your homework by comparing plans. Look for one that works for your lifestyle, your income and your individual health care needs. The time you invest will be well spent.
ABOUT THE EXPERT
Margaret Anderson is chief sales and marketing officer for Health Alliance Plan (HAP). She is responsible for HAP’s strategic planning, as well as sales and service for all product lines. She has more than 25 years of experience in the health care industry with a focus on serving the unique needs of the Medicare population.
Members of the editorial and news staff of The Detroit News were not involved in the creation of this content.