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October 19, 2023
Tis the season… No, even though Christmas decorations are crowding out Halloween on store shelves, it is not quite time for the winter holidays. However, if you are 65 or over, it is the season of shopping! The Medicare Open Enrollment season is upon us and will last from Oct. 15 to Dec. 7.
Now is the time to assess your current coverage and shop around for perhaps a better deal or a plan more suitable to your current health needs. Here are 13 tips for getting the best coverage and care from the Medicare Open Enrollment Period:
Medicare’s open enrollment is a time period every year when you can:
You are never locked into your Medicare coverage for more than a year and it is important to assess annually for better insurance at a lower cost.
Not everyone knows this, but Medicare plans can – and do – change. So, the first step is to find out what is new with your existing coverage.
If there are changes, your plan should have sent you a “Plan Annual Notice of Change” (ANOC) last September. If you think you missed it, call your insurer and ask for the “annual notice of change.”
Pay particular attention to:
You may want to call your doctors’ offices and ask to speak with the billing department. They should be able to tell you which plans they will be accepted in 2024. If they are dropping your existing plan, then you will want to see if any of the other plans are affordable for you.
Once you know what your existing Medicare Supplemental plan will cover in 2024, you should compare how well that matches your current and anticipated needs.
Will your existing plan still cover the medications you take? Has your health changed and do you now have different needs?
While the specifics of your individual plan may change, here are some of the headlines for 2024:
Even if your existing plan works well for you, you should still shop around to see if there is a more cost-effective option.
You can contact your State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP). SHIP (sometimes called by another name) provides free counseling to any Medicare recipient to help people choose a Medicare plan.
You can contact Medicare at 1-800-MEDICARE or Medicare.gov. They have a Medicare plan comparison tool that may be helpful.
The NewRetirement Retirement Planner also enables you to estimate your lifetime medical costs for different coverage types, health conditions and premium levels.
It is illegal for any licensed Medicare agent to make unsolicited contact with you. So, if you get a call, text, or voicemail from someone offering Medicare services, it is a scam.
Do not give out any personal information.
Also, be wary of the barrage of advertising you will likely see during this period.
Once you have identified a plan or plans that may be a good fit for your particular health needs, you can look up how well those plans rate.
Medicare.gov lets you research plan quality and performance ratings.
U.S. News and World Report is also a reliable source. They evaluate all insurance companies and the plans they offer in each state. See the Best Medicare Advantage Plans and the Best Medicare Part D Plans.
Even with supplemental coverage, prescription co-pays can add up. To save money, discuss your concerns with your doctor. Ask if they will prescribe a less expensive alternative or a generic.
Whatever your doctor prescribes, shop around to fill your prescription. Filling the same prescription at Costco versus CVS could save a lot. Ordering a 90-day supply online may save you even more.
If you’re still working and are eligible to contribute to an HSA, take advantage of it. Your contributions are made pre-tax, the money in your account grows tax-free, and you can withdraw funds from the account at any time tax-free, as long as the money is used for qualified medical expenses.
Learn more about HSAs: What they are and why they are a compelling savings option.
If you are in good health, you’ll spend less on retirement health care costs.
Medicare offers a wide range of immunizations, preventive screenings and well-being programs for free.
Out of pocket medical costs are one of the three biggest expenditures for most retirees. Studies have shown that the total out of pocket Medicare costs are higher than the total Social Security income for the average retiree. In other words, Social Security income does not even cover what most retirees will have to spend on their health.
So, it is important to make sure that your retirement finances are prepared for this major expense. In 2024.
The NewRetirement Planner is an award-winning tool that can help you prepare. This easy-to-use tool offers very detailed and sophisticated calculations and includes retirement health care costs.
Getting the right coverage for you can feel overwhelming. And, a lot of the assistance you might get comes from the insurers themselves and it is normal to feel skeptical of their recommendations.
Work with a Fee-Only Advisor: NewRetirement Advisors offers consultations with a fee-only CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™. They are experts in everything financial, and we can match you to someone who specializes in retirement medical costs. Book a FREE discovery session today.
Take a Class: NewRetirement offers over 32 different classes all available on demand with different live sessions throughout the month. In our In Depth Collection, one of the 24+ sessions covers “Medicare and Long Term Care Fundamentals.” Learn more about the NewRetirement Classroom.
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