Here’s information to help you review yearly Medicare options – News – The Daily RecordOctober 13, 2019
It’s registration time for older adults looking to find a Medicare prescription drug or managed care plan for 2020.
Open enrollment begins Tuesday for older and disabled adults who want to shop for the Medicare Advantage managed-care plans and Medicare Part D prescription drug plans. They are available for everyone covered by Medicare, the federal health insurance program for people 65 or older and some younger disabled Americans.
Enrollment will continue through Dec. 7. Changes are effective Jan. 1.
Whether this is your first year shopping for a plan or you’re a pro, plan offerings change every year, so it’s important to review your plan to make sure you still have the best plan for next year, said Chris Reeg, director of the Ohio Department of Insurance’s Ohio Senior Health Insurance Information Program.
“Just because it was the best plan in 2019, it may or may not be the best plan in 2020,” Reeg said. Insurers have a one-year contract with Medicare and every year, their pricing structure can change, including premiums, drug costs and the provider directory, she said.
Take a close look at the costs of services you use the most, said Francine Chuchanis, director of entitlement rights for Direction Home Akron Canton Area Agency on Aging, who reviews the Medicare Advantage plans offered in several area counties yearly.
“If you’re a person who goes to a lot of specialists, you want to see what it’s going to cost you,” said Chuchanis. Also look at co-pays, deductibles, drug formularies and provider quality star ratings, she said.
However, Chuchanis and Reeg both warn against simply choosing the cheapest plans without looking at other factors.
And unlike the old adage of “you get what you pay for,” there are many zero-premium Medicare Advantage plans with good coverage because Medicare pays plans to participate and subsidizes some costs, they said.
If you’re interested in staying with your same plan, your insurer should have mailed a letter outlining any changes. If you want to stay on the same plan for next year, you do not need to re-enroll and you will get automatically renewed, but it’s not a bad idea to call to confirm, said Chuchanis.
The Medicare.gov website got a major overhaul this year, the first in 10 years. But with that, there have been some glitches and some information is late to load or may not be fully loaded until the enrollment period begins Tuesday. That includes full information about Part D prescription drug plans.
“We always caution folks when Medicare is making updates, we’ll run [the information] and that information is as accurate as we can test it, but if there are discrepancies, contact the company directly,” Reeg said.
This year, a requirement to have insurers have substantial differences among its various plans was eliminated, so there are more plans but with very subtle differences, Chuchanis said.
“It could be the difference between a $5 copay for a primary care doctor visit and a $10…