Is your Medicare Advantage plan changing? Is it being canceled? Are you looking at other Advantage plans? The Medicare Open Enrollment Period is coming up (October 15 – December 7), so if you are shopping for a new Medicare Advantage plan, here are some things to consider:
Some Medicare Advantage plans have much lower co-pays than their competition. These plans will most likely have a smaller network than other plans, so make sure your doctors are in the plan’s network – unless you don’t care about this. Same goes for hospitals. In Tucson only two Advantage plans are contracted with University of Arizona Medical Center and University Physicians. If you think using UAMC is important, you have only two Medicare Advantage choices.
If you take only generics, this should not be an issue as you consider various Medicare Advantage plans. Some companies offer $0 co-pays for generics if you use their mail order service. One Advantage plan makes you pay $15 for tier 2 generics while another plan makes might have an $8 or $10 co-pay for that same drug. Does that matter to you?
More expensive brand drugs can be handled very differently from one Advantage plan to another. One drug might have a $45 co-pay on one plan and a $90 co-pay on another plan. This is the exact same drug!
Some plans have much lower co-pays than others. One plan in Tucson has a $50 co-pay to see a specialist. Another plan might be $35. Hospital co-pays vary widely from plan to plan. Outpatient surgery co-pays range from $75 to $200. For some people, the doctor network is not nearly as important as low co-pays for medical services.
A good insurance broker will help you sort through these details.
Yes, I am putting in a good word for myself and other insurance brokers – but the details to cover can be pretty overwhelming for most people. An insurance broker usually represents multiple companies and should be working on behalf of the customer and not the insurance companies.
An insurance broker or agent should never pressure someone to make a decision – or pressure someone to make a choice then and there. If you feel pressured by an insurance agent or broker, tell him or her to take a hike.
I know there are some shady characters out there…. but the insurance brokers I know are ethical and concerned about their clients. Here is some guidance for finding a good insurance broker:
Does she represent multiple companies?
How long has he been in the business?
Ask your friends and relatives if they can recommend a good broker.
If an insurance broker/agent shows up at your door unannounced, slam the door. That person is breaking Medicare rules.