October 16

Time for Your Annual Medicare Check-Up

By Rick Banas of Gardant Management Solutions

For those of us on Medicare, it is the time of year for an annual check-up.

Why? Because what is covered by Medicare plans and costs can change each year.

If you are already covered by Medicare health and drug plans, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid (CMS) strongly recommends that you look at what the plans will cover and what they will cost in 2019 and compare the plans with other plans that are available in the area. You may find plans that better meet your needs.

If you would like to get help choosing the plan that is right for you, CMS suggests the following:

  • Contact the State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP) in your state. SHIPs provide free, personalized counseling to Medicare-eligible individuals, their families and caregivers. Click here to locate the SHIP programs in your state.
  • Call 1-800-MEDICARE. (1-800-633-4227).
  • Visit the Medicare Plan Finder page on this website.

You can compare monthly premiums; deductibles; out-of-pocket limits; and the cost of primary care and specialty visits, home health care, durable medical equipment, and medications, both in-network and out-of-network.

You have until Dec. 7, 2018 to change your Medicare health or prescription drug plan for 2019. This includes returning to Original Medicare or joining a Medicare Advantage Plan.

If you decide to stay with your current health and prescription plans, you do not have to do anything.

If you make a change, your new coverage will begin Jan. 1, 2019.

CMS also suggests that you ask your doctor and other health care providers about what preventive health services are covered by Medicare.

Rick Banas is the Vice President for Development and Positioning with Gardant Management Solutions.

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