Is your mailbox groaning under the weight of healthcare flyers? Though they’re not quite as fun to peruse as travel brochures about Bermuda or Greenland, you can expect the glut to comprise the bulk of your reading material through December 31st. That’s when the “window” closes for switching from original Medicare to Medicare Advantage or replacing one Medicare Advantage plan with another. If you’re not happy with your current arrangement, you have until year end to examine your options and choose a program that better suits your needs.
Once the enrollment period is over, you generally must stay with the new plan until next year, so you’ll want to make your choice carefully. Here are questions to ask before you switch.
Which provider offers the best care quality and the most complete coverage?
Compare plans by making a list of what’s important to you, then calling the number on those flyers and talking to a representative. You can also go to seminars and ask for a brochure. The Medicare handbook is a good source of information, too.
Who chooses my doctor?
Find out if your preferred physician, hospital, skilled nursing facility, nursing home or outpatient treatment clinic is in the program. Some plans allow you to receive care only from “in-network” providers—that is, those doctors and facilities that have a contract with the company selling the plan.
What about out-of-pocket expenses?
Check yearly limits on deductibles and co-pays for doctor’s visits and hospital stays.
Is a drug plan available?
Take a look at what drugs are covered, how much you’re expected to co-pay, what pharmacies you can use, and other items of importance to you —such as whether or not you can get your prescriptions filled when traveling in Bermuda or Greenland.