3 Questions to Ask Before You Choose a Medicare Plan

Senior couple about to choose a medicare plan

Once a year, during Annual Enrollment Period (AEP), you’re able to choose a Medicare plan or make changes to your existing plan. This short window (ending December 7th) is your opportunity to think about your healthcare needs, learn about changes to Medicare and adjust your Original Medicare or Medicare Advantage Plan for the upcoming year.

Take Carol, for example. Over the last year, her health needs shifted considerably. She experienced swollen ankles, shortness of breath climbing the steps to her house, and became dizzy when getting out of bed. Her practitioner discovered a heart problem. She required new medications and several trips to the cardiologist.

When AEP began in October, before Carol called her Medicare plan provider to adjust her Medicare plan, she wrote down the changes to her health. She also listed her providers and prescription drugs. Using her notes, she was able to easily answer the plan specialist’s questions and get the benefits needed for the upcoming year.

To help make updating your healthcare benefits easy, ask yourself these 3 questions before you talk to your Medicare specialist (you can also use them as a cheat sheet during your call).

1. How has my health changed in the last year?

Have some areas improved, while others now require additional attention? Did your medical practitioner suggest care to think about, and maybe it’s time to act on that recommendation?

Making a note of where you are health wise—creating your care “story”—helps you and your plan provider choose the right benefits.

2. What doctors did I see over the last year?

Do you have new, ongoing appointments with your general practitioner or an upcoming series of specialist appointments? Whomever you saw or need to see, create a list of your providers and include the anticipated length of care.

Creating this provider “picture”—and having the information on hand when you’re talking to your Medicare plan specialist—will help you decide on the right plan. For example, maybe you need different coverage for specialist visits. Alternatively, you may need to adjust your Medicare plan, because you no longer need a particular type of coverage.

3. How have my prescriptions changed?

Prescription drugs and their cost change often. Generics come onto the market and pharmacies switch in and out of plans. Additionally, you may be paying for a new medication that under a different plan will save you money (a good reason to call your Medicare Plan Specialist).

As you write down your medications, add these details to each drug:

  • Is this a new or existing medication?
  • What are the current out-of-pocket costs?
  • Has the dosage changed (to an existing medication)?
  • Are generic alternatives available for prescribed brand medications?

You can also visit the Medicare.gov “What Drug Plans Cover” page for detailed information on covered prescription drugs, generics and plan pricing tiers.

Choose a Medicare Plan with confidence

November is an important AEP month, as it’s the only whole month during the season. It’s also a busy month, as the holiday season kicks off. Now is a good time to evaluate your health, your care and your benefits. Do that first, and you’ll feel confident making the necessary changes to your Medicare coverage.

Here’s some great news: You don’t have to search for the right Medicare plan alone. At MSHP, we’ll help you sort through all your options. Please take a few minutes to answer the 3 questions above then give us a call: 1-877-255-6273