How to Compare Advantage Plans
If you decide to stay with medicare advantage arizona and just switch plans, use the Medicare Plan Finder tool or call Medicare (800-MEDICARE to find out what other plans are available in your area and compare them. Here again, don’t just focus on low monthly premiums. Some plans advertise $0 premium policies. But focusing on low monthly costs alone is a mistake.
” There might be trade-offs that could result in higher out-of-pocket costs,” says a Medicare policy analyst with The Senior Citizens League, a nonpartisan senior advocacy organization.
A better strategy is to estimate your total out-of-pocket costs under the plan. Take a look at your past medical needs and consider what care you might need in the year ahead. Then add up the copays, deductibles, and coinsurance payments you are likely to pay. Your insurer may have an online cost estimator tool that may help, and you can find more resources here. Don’t forget to do a separate calculation for your prescription drug costs.
Dig into the details of plans that look promising– you want to make sure your medical treatment will actually be covered. Call the insurance companies or check their websites to learn what doctors and hospitals are in the plan’s network. Then double-check this information by calling your healthcare providers directly to make sure they take that insurance plan.
To avoid surprise medical bills, be sure to investigate what happens if you use an out-of-network provider, as well as what referrals and preauthorizations you will need to see a specialist. And find out whether, and how, you’ll be covered if you’re traveling out of your coverage area.
Again, a good starting point is the Medicare Plan Finder tool. Medicare also offers enrollees an online-chat feature for some beneficiaries where you can connect with Medicare experts to ask questions about your coverage options.
To qualify for a Medicare Advantage plan, you need to: Be enrolled in Original Medicare, both Part A and Part B.
Live in the coverage area of the plan you want to enroll in.
Not have end-stage renal disease (ESRD). There are exceptions, so if you have ESRD and want to sign up for a Medicare Advantage plan, you can ask your plan, or Medicare, about exceptions. Medicare’s contact information is at the end of this article.
You can enroll in a Medicare Advantage plan during your Initial Coverage Election Period (ICEP):.
If you sign up for Medicare Part A and Part B when you first qualify for Medicare, you can enroll in Medicare Advantage at that time as well. Your ICEP is usually a seven-month period that starts three months before the month where you turn 65, and runs through your birth month, and continues for the three months after that.
If you delay enrollment in Medicare Part B (for example, if you’re covered through an employer’s plan), your ICEP is the three-month period before your Part B start date. For example, if you enrolled in Part B during the General Enrollment Period (January 1 to March 31), your Part B start date would be July 1, so your ICEP would be April 1 to June 30.
The Medicare Rights Center has an interactive tool that provides easy-to-use information about enrollment and plan options. And if you want state-specific details, the State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP) can tell you more about offerings in your area. To find your state’s SHIP program, go to Shiptacenter.org
Assessing your coverage options and finding the best plan can be confusing. “It can be daunting to sort through the advertising and sales pitches, but there are resources available for unbiased advice and information,” says Jane Sung, a senior strategic policy adviser at the AARP Public Policy Institute.
a trained counselor.
People who are struggling to pay bills may be able to get help through the Medicare Savings Program. To find out whether you’re eligible, go to benefitscheckup.org or contact your local Medicare Savings Program office.