Reviewing Medicare Plan options can be a daunting task for most retirees, but it could save you thousands of dollars.

There is nothing exciting about an annual Medicare plan review, and for some retirees the experience is awful. Nearly a quarter of Medicare beneficiaries said that reviewing their Medicare plan once a year is among their “most unpleasant things to do,” along with getting a colonoscopy or going to the dentist, according to a survey from WellCare Health Plans. Like a colonoscopy or going to the dentist, most people put off reviewing their Medicare plan until the last minute and then get it over with as soon as possible, or they don’t review it at all. Only 33% of retirees compare prices for Medicare plans, the WellCare report revealed. That compares 54% who compare prices while grocery shopping and 44% compare gas prices.

By not shopping around to find the best plan that fits your needs (both medical and financial), could end up costing you thousands of dollars.

During the annual enrollment period, beneficiaries are able to review all of their plan options and switch plans. This means you can switch from Original Medicare Part A & Part B to a Medicare Advantage insurance plan (Medicare Part C), or vice versa, change to a different Medicare Advantage plan offered by another insurance carrier or change your Medicare Part D prescription drug plan. If you don’t make the changes during the AEP, which runs from October 15th – December 7th each year, you’re locked into the plan for the rest of the year.

If you’re among that quarter of the seniors who think shopping your Medicare plan options is as horrid as getting a colonoscopy or a root canal, you may not care that you are paying too much for coverage. The Senior Citizens League conducted research to compare different Medicare prescription drug plans to determine the differences in pricing. Researchers looked at 10 of the most commonly prescribed medications and discovered the average cost difference between the highest-priced and lowest-priced plans was $593 per month.  A 30-day supply of cholesterol medication (Crestor), for example, can range from $27.25 to $383.50 depending on your plan, researchers found. If you’re not comparing plans (especially prescription drug plans), you may be needlessly paying hundreds of dollars extra.

When choosing a new Medicare plan, you shouldn’t just pick the one with the lowest cost premium and assume it meets your needs. There are multiple factors to consider:

  1. Decide between Original Medicare Part A & Part B or a Medicare Advantage plan. Part A covers expenses related to hospitalization, while Part B covers other medical expenses such as doctor’s visits, lab test, and some preventative care. However, Original Medicare Part A & Part B does not cover prescription drugs, although you can enroll in Part D separately. Medicare Advantage plans are offered through private insurance companies and are regulated by the government and required to offer plans that are comparable to Part A and Part B. Advantage plans are simpler than Original Medicare in one sense because they’re essentially a one-stop shop for coverage and sometimes coverage for dental, vision, hearing and other wellness services.
  2. Check the provider network. With Original Medicare, you can go to any doctor and or hospital that accepts Medicare patients and be covered. If you choose an Advantage plan, you’ll need to review the network to ensure your doctor is a part of the network. If your plan is an HMO and you visit an out-of-network doctor, Medicare won’t cover it (except during emergencies or a few other rare situations.) If you have a PPO, you can go out of network but you may need to pay more than if you’d visited an in-network doctor.
  3. Consider your healthcare needs. If you have a few plans in mind, it’s common to begin comparing plans based on premium cost and your monthly budget. Premiums, deductibles, and copays all vary by plan, and choosing the right one for you will depend on your health. If a plan has a lower monthly premium, it typically has a higher deductible or coinsurance amount. While nobody plans to have healthcare issues, this option can be costly if you are in need of regular medical treatment.

Nobody likes to shop around for Medicare plans, but health care expenses can be a huge cost that beneficiaries will face during retirement. You’re already paying thousands for healthcare, so why would you pay thousands more by not reviewing your options?

Medicare Pathways can help you shop around easily – from the convenience and comfort of your own home. Give us a call today to learn about this simple approach to selecting a Medicare health plan that meets your financial and medical needs. Call 866-466-9118 now to speak with a licensed sales agent.