You could ask a Medicare consultant, “What Medicare plan is best for me?” and wait to hear his or her recommendations for plans for you to consider.
But there is a better way. Make a checklist of your Medicare questions and concerns first, and be sure to discuss them before considering different plans. This is a proactive approach that increases the likelihood that you will find a Medicare plan that is just right for you.
Here’s a Medicare Questions Checklist
Not all the following questions will apply to you. But many will, so here’s a checklist to save and refer to as you review Medicare plans.
- Budgeting and costs – How much can you budget to pay for coverage, and which plans can you afford? If you only want free basic coverage, how can you get that and if you do, will you be surprised by big coverage shortfalls at some point in the future?
- Your preferred caregivers – Can you keep visiting them after you sign up for a plan, or will you need to change?
- Copays – What will you be required to pay when you see your primary care provider and any specialists you are referred to?
- Ongoing medical conditions and concerns – List those that are on your mind, like diabetes type 1 or 2, prostate enlargement or cancer, atrial fibrillation or other heart conditions, osteoporosis, aneurysms that require monitoring, circulatory problems – and so on. Will the plans you are considering allow you uninterrupted care, preferably from the caregivers you are currently seeing? And if you are worried that those conditions will one day require treatment at a specialized facility or hospital, will they be covered?
- Dental and vision coverage – If you need care now, or if you anticipate you will need services like cataract surgery or dental implants, can you find a plan that will help with those procedures?
- Family planning – This can entail a number of questions. If your spouse will remain on a non-Medicare policy (like an employer-subsidized plan), how does that impact your choice of a plan?
- Plans to relocate – If you are planning to move to a different state, should you try to get a plan that you can transfer without any interruptions or problems?
- The need for long-term care – If you anticipate that you or a plan member will need long-term care in a specialized facility, can you find a plan that will help pay for it?
- The need for transportation, mobility aids, in-home care, and other special needs – If you currently have specialized needs like them, ask whether they are in part covered by the plans you are considering. And if you anticipate that you will need them in the future, the time to ask about them is now.
- Referrals to specialists – If your primary care provider refers you to a specialist for treatment, how will that work? Will your primary care provider be able to refer you directly, or will you have to select a practitioner from the plan’s list of approved care providers?
- Nice to haves – Do you like to visit a massage therapist, a chiropractor, or a provider of alternative therapies? You might be able to pick a plan that covers them. At the very least, it is worth asking.
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