November 2018

Save Money with Medicare Choices

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Looking back on my journey to enrolling in Medicare I wish I had gotten free assistance from a Medicare CHOICES Counselor. There are two counselors in Suffield that you can meet with at either the Senior Center 860-668-8830 or at Suffield Community Aid 860-668-1986. These trained, unbiased volunteers can help you find the best information for your situation. Call either agency for a free “Medicare CHOICES Counselor” appointment. I didn’t do that until later. Here are three things I’ve learned.

First, Medicare Advantage plans may save you money in premiums, but they might cost you in other ways. Be aware of the provider networks and other limitations. If you go to an “out of network” doctor by mistake, insurance will not cover you. Don’t depend on the doctor’s office to tell you if they are in your network. Check with your insurance company.

Second, if you enroll in Original Medicare, get a Medigap plan to help you pay for out of pocket expenses. There are several plan types identified by letters (A, B, C, etc.). Several insurance companies offer each plan type. They all charge a different rate for exactly the same benefits. For example, the 2018 premium for an “A” plan ranged from $181 to $983. The prices change every year. Make sure you are in the plan type you need and with the lowest-cost insurer.

Finally, with Original Medicare, most enrollees should get a Part D Drug Plan. If you postpone this you will pay penalties later. The most cost-effective plan depends on the drugs you take and your preferred pharmacy. The prices and formularies change every year, and pharmacies two miles apart can charge different prices for the same drugs. Use the Medicare.gov Plan Finder to find the best Part D option for you. Or take your prescription info to a CHOICES counselor for assistance.

Choosing the right Medicare plan that is most economical for you is not easy to do. Even if you’re happy with your current plan, you may be surprised at how much money you can save. 

Visit a CHOICES counselor to see if you can be pleasantly surprised. 

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