Medicare Annual Enrollment Period: October 15 - December 7

What You Need to Know When Comparing and Shopping for a Medicare Plan

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What are the benefits of carefully shopping for a Medicare plan?

Simple answer. When you take the time to investigate carefully, you can find and enroll in a Medicare plan that offers you advantages like these:

  • You can continue to use your favorite primary care physician and preferred specialists.
  • Your preexisting conditions will be covered – and that coverage can never be cancelled at any time in the future.
  • The copays you pay when you see caregivers will remain steady, not go up.
  • The prescription medications you rely on will be covered.
  • The deductible you must pay before your drug coverage kicks in is small and manageable.
  • You will know how much you will have to pay out of pocket for an operation or other medical procedure you might need.
  • Your spouse can join your plan after he or she retires.
  • Your plan will pay for dental implants, eyeglasses, hearing aids, and other extras that are not covered by Original Medicare Parts A and B.
  • You can enroll in a plan that serves your needs, “grows” with you, and helps you maintain your health for years.

If you want to enjoy those benefits, ask the right questions when you are shopping for a Medicare plan.

First, What Does “Shopping for a Medicare Plan” Mean?

It means comparing Medicare plans that are sold through commercial insurance companies, not by the government. (Remember that you don’t need to “shop” for Original Medicare Parts A and B, you enroll directly from Medicare.gov, probably at the same time you are signing up for Social Security.)

When you go shopping for a Medicare plan, you are looking at plans that provide all your coverage in one bundle or supplemental coverage to the original Medicare program.

  • Medicare Advantage plans replace your Original Medicare. They are alternatives. If you enroll in one of these, you will still be in the Medicare program. However, your Medicare benefits will be administered through your Medicare Advantage plan, not the federally administered program.
  • Medicare Supplement plans (also called Medigap plans) let you stay enrolled in Original Medicare Part A and Part B, and cover some expenses that Medicare itself will not, such as emergency medical coverage when you’re traveling outside of the U.S., deductibles, and other out of pocket expenses. These plans have upfront costs but almost no other expenses when you use services.

Which of these plans is better for you? And what specific features do you want your plan to provide?

You will answer those questions as you dig deeper and work your way through the following questions.

Small and Big Questions to Ask When Comparing and Shopping for Medicare  Plans

Which Kind of Medicare Supplement Plan Should You Consider? Plan G, Plan N, Or One of the Others?

Plan G and Plan N Supplement Plans are popular because they are competitively priced and offer comprehensive coverage.

As you shop for a Medicare Supplement Plan, you will learn that there are 10 different government-approved plans. The two most popular are Medicare Supplement Plan G and Medicare Supplement Plan N.

Neither Plan G nor Plan N covers your Part B deductible, which is $233 in 2022. But once you have met that deductible for the year, your plan will pay the rest.

Both Plan G and Plan N policies cover many of the costs that Original Medicare doesn’t. For instance, they will cover:

  • Blood (first three pints you receive)
  • Foreign travel emergency care (may vary by policy)
  • Medicare Part A coinsurance and hospital costs
  • Medicare Part B coinsurance
  • Part A hospice care coinsurance or copayment
  • Skilled nursing facility coinsurance
  • Your Medicare Part A deductible ($1,556 in 2022)

Note that Supplement Plan G policies cost more and provide more extensive coverage than Plan N policies do. Plan N policies will not cover certain add-on charges that health care providers can add to your bill.

In addition, Plan N policies do not cover copays for office visits. So read the fine print. You could learn, for example, that your Plan N policy will only pay for your emergency room visit if you are admitted as an inpatient; if you are not, you could be hit with a hefty bill for your visit.

The bottom line is, to learn everything you can about your policy type before you enroll and get some expert guidance.

Won’t You Need to Enroll in a Medicare Drug Plan (Part D) If You are Enrolling in a Medigap Plan?

Yes, you will. In addition to your Medigap plan, you must enroll in a drug plan (Medicare Part D) to cover your prescription drugs. Remember, you should sign up for one of these plans, even if you are not currently taking any medications.

Talk with a qualified and licensed Medicare counselor at CoverRight to help you find the best Part D plan to meet your needs! If you do not get the drug coverage you need during your initial enrollment in a Medigap/Medicare Supplement policy, adding it later will result in penalties and a potential gap in coverage.

But don’t forget to compare RX plans regarding costs. Also, check carefully to determine whether the medications you need are covered by the plan.

Where Will I Receive My Medical Care?

Will I be spending all my time in one location, without ever traveling? Will I be dividing my time between residences in several states? Will I be traveling outside the U.S., where, and how often?

These questions will affect your choice of plan, so be sure to talk them over with a CoverRight Medicare Concierge.

It All Looks Good . . . Can’t I Just Sign and Get Enrolled at Once?

Well, you could. But if you invest only a little more time to read the fine print on the plan, to answer in-depth questions, and to review your own needs, you will almost always end up making a better choice.

Can You Simplify Everything by Buying a Plan Recommended by a Salesperson or a Friend?

You could, but it is better to avoid outside influence and conduct your own study of different plans.

The bottom line is, to do your own evaluations. Your friends might want you to enroll in the same plans they have . . . but are their needs the same as yours? A salesperson from an insurance company might be giving you a hard sell . . . but is he or she genuinely focused on helping you find the plan that best meets your needs, or only trying to make a sale? Your spouse might wonder why it is taking you so long to shop carefully, when so many plans are available, why not just make up your mind?

Bear in mind, that you need to shop carefully, and get advice that is unbiased. And that is going to take a little time.

Can I Calculate What My Covered and Out-of-Pocket Costs Will Be?

Yes, you can! And you should. One of the qualified Medicare Consultants at CoverRight can help you. Why shouldn’t you know just what you will be paying?

And After You Enrolled…Review Your Coverage Yearly

You can sit back, keep paying your monthly premiums and let your plan policy renew every year. But doing so can be a mistake, so remember to review your coverage yearly. Your plan can change in many of the small details – and your needs can change too. So be diligent, check what is happening with your plan every year, and avoid any unwanted surprises.

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CoverRight is on a mission to make the Medicare plan selection process easy to understand. We are here to help you find the best Medicare plans suited to your specific situation. Try our self-guided Medicare quiz to see for yourself.

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