Turned 65 yet? Examine your Medicare options, Dr. Trunk says
Approximately 11,000 adults become eligible for Medicare every day, reflecting a dramatically increasing senior population, and that number is only going to grow. The U.S. Census Bureau predicts there will be about 72.1 million seniors age 65 and up – nearly 20 percent of the population – by 2030.
Nine of 10 older adults are living with at least one chronic condition, according to the National Council on Aging. Making matters worse, these conditions place a significant financial burden on seniors and caregivers. As a result, there’s a clear need for access to affordable health care that meets the needs of individuals as they age.
New Orleans seniors should keep an eye out for materials from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) in the months leading up to their 65th birthday. Following are tips to help seniors and their caregivers learn about their Medicare options, including when they can enroll and the types of health plans available, as they begin the Medicare plan selection process:
Know Your Options
Find a plan that provides the health care coverage you need and maximizes your health care dollars. Your options include Original Medicare (Parts A and B); Medicare Supplement plans; a Medicare Prescription Drug Plan (PDP), or Medicare Part D; and Medicare Advantage (Part C), which typically provides extra benefits, services and prescription drug coverage and may or may not require an additional premium.
Know Your Enrollment Time Frame
This year, during the Annual Election Period (AEP) from Oct. 15 to Dec. 7, seniors who are eligible for Medicare can review Medicare Advantage and Medicare Part D plan options and select health care coverage for 2016. However, people turning 65 before October can enroll earlier. They have a seven-month window – the Initial Enrollment Period (IEP) – to enroll, including the three months before their 65thbirthday, the month of their birthday and the three following months.
Know Your Medical Cost History
Review your records to see how much you spent on health care during the past year, including hospital expenses, pharmacy costs and doctor bills. Then try to calculate your best estimate for health care costs in the year ahead.
Know Your Resources
If you are considering a Medicare Advantage plan, research the costs, benefits and network of doctors and hospitals associated with each plan. The government’s Medicare website, www.medicare.gov, is a good resource that lets you find and compare Medicare health and prescription drug plans. CMS makes it easier to navigate the Medicare landscape by rating health plans on a five-star assessment grade.
Insurers often offer multiple Medicare Advantage plans from which beneficiaries can choose to fit their specific life, income and health situations. Benefits from these plans may include primary care and specialty office visits, routine physical and preventive care and membership in fitness classes and lifestyle enrichment programs.
If you’re approaching your 65th birthday, it is important to start considering Medicare options to select the plan that best fits all of your needs.