When you’re ready to start reviewing plans, check out the Medicare plan finder tool, which will let you compare Medicare Advantage and Part D prescription drug plans available in your area. You can also get this information by calling Medicare at 800-633-4227.
If you’re looking for a Medigap plan, you can also start at medicare.gov, where you can compare the different types of coverage, as well as find the policies available in your ZIP code.
Another good resource is the State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP), which provides free guidance over the phone. To find your state’s program, go to shiphelp.org or call 877-839-2675.
Medicare Advantage is an all-in-one managed care plan, typically an HMO or PPO. Advantage plans provide the benefits of Part A and B, and most also include Part D, or prescription drug coverage. Some offer extra benefits not available through Original Medicare, such as fitness classes or vision and dental care.
If you opt for Medicare Advantage, you typically continue to pay your Part B premium as usual, but you will pay little or no additional premiums for your coverage. You generally have copays or coinsurance, but once you reach your out-of-pocket limit, the plan will pay 100 percent of your medical costs covered under Medicare for the rest of the year. The out-of-pocket limit does not apply to prescription drugs or extra benefits.
To keep premiums low, Advantage plans generally require you to get your care from a network of doctors, hospitals, and other providers, and you typically need pre-authorization for specialized care.
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, governments across the United States relaxed restrictions on telemedicine, allowing more patients to receive healthcare remotely than ever before. This development brought a number of questions about how telehealth should be regulated to the fore. Is remote care as effective as in-person care? Would long-turn expansion of telemedicine reduce costs for patients and healthcare providers? Might a greater reliance on telehealth actually reduce access to care for some patients?
President Biden has released a health care plan that proposes reducing the age of eligibility for Medicare to 60 years and introducing a public option. Larry Levitt, MPP, Executive Vice President for Health Policy at the Kaiser Family Foundation, and Karen Joynt Maddox, MD, MPH, Co-Director of the Center for Health Economics and Policy (CHEP) at @Washington University School of Medicine, and Lawrence O. Gostin, JD from the O’Neill Institute for National and Global Health Law at Georgetown University discuss prospects for health care reform under the new administration. Recorded January 21, 2021.
If you’re enrolled only in original Medicare with a Medigap supplemental plan, and don’t use a drug plan, there’s no need to re-evaluate your coverage, experts say. But Part D drug plans should be reviewed annually. The same applies to Advantage plans, which often wrap in prescription coverage and can make changes to their rosters of in-network health care providers.
“The amount of information that consumers need to grasp is dizzying, and it turns them off from doing a search,” Mr. Riccardi said. “They feel paralyzed about making a choice, and some just don’t think there is a more affordable plan out there for them.”
Is there another way?
When creation of the prescription drug benefit was being debated, progressive Medicare advocates fought to expand the existing program to include drug coverage, funded by a standard premium, similar to the structure of Part B. The standard Part B premium this year is $144.60; the only exceptions to that are high-income enrollees, who pay special income-related surcharges, and very low-income enrollees, who are eligible for special subsidies to help them meet Medicare costs.
“Given the enormous Medicare population that could be negotiated for, I think most drugs could be offered through a standard Medicare plan,” said Judith A. Stein, executive director of the Center for Medicare Advocacy.
“Instead, we have this very fragmented system that assumes very savvy, active consumers will somehow shop among dozens of plan options to see what drugs are available and at what cost with all the myriad co-pays and cost-sharing options,” she added.
Advocates like Ms. Stein also urged controlling program costs by allowing Medicare to negotiate drug prices with pharmaceutical companies — something the legislation that created Part D forbids.
Medicare is a blessing. It is a great help to retired and elderly people and generally does the job it was intended to do. There are a great variety of Medicare supplement plans and pharmaceutical purchase plans, And they jockey and change every year.
I get a headache just thinking about how to compare these plans from my individual needs and and whether their cost is worth it. The take-home message from the New York Times article is that you can get individual attention from an advisor who presumably knows the field well.
The key acronyms are SHIP and HICAP, which stands for state health insurance assist program and California health insurance counseling and advisor program respectively.
The California number is 1-800-434-0222. Be sure to write down the medications that you are taking and Your diagnosed illnesses, as well as your financial status in order to make best use of the service.