Medical costs can be a financial burden. Luckily, federal programs are available to minimize the expenses you have to shoulder. Among others, one of the most popular federal programs is Medicare, which is available to eligible members 65 years old and above or those with certain disabilities.
Original Medicare has two main parts – Part A (hospital insurance) and Part B (medical insurance). In some cases, they might be insufficient. This is when Part C (Medicare Advantage) enters the picture. Read on to learn more about the latter to get the most comprehensive coverage and enjoy significant savings.
What is Medicare Advantage?
While there are different Medicare plans, not all will provide the same coverage. For instance, Part A is limited to in-patient hospital care, home health care, hospice care, and skilled nursing facility. On the other hand, Part B includes outpatient medical services, such as preventive services, durable medical equipment, and doctor visits. To fill the gaps in these two plans, you might consider purchasing Medicare Advantage.
Unlike Medicare Parts A and B, Medicare Advantage is purchased from a private insurer. It’s a supplemental plan. You must qualify for Original Medicare before you can qualify for Medicare Advantage.
With Medicare Advantage, you can enjoy everything in Parts A and B with extras. For instance, it can cover vision and hearing, which are traditionally not included in Original Medicare. It can also cover prescription drugs.
When to Enroll
To maximize the benefits of Medicare Advantage and save money, you must enroll once you’re qualified to do so. This way, you can immediately enjoy the benefits your plan gives you. Otherwise, you might end up waiting longer and covering medical expenses alone.
One of the best times to enroll for Medicare Advantage is during the Initial Enrollment Period. It is three months before the month you turn 65, the month you turn 65, and three months after the month your turn 65.
Meanwhile, you can also register during the General Enrollment Period from January 1 to March 31.
Another instance when you can register for Medicare Advantage is during the Special Enrollment Period.
You can also register during the Annual Enrolment Period (AEP), which runs from October 15 to December 7 every year. The AEP Medicare registration is an opportunity to switch from original Medicare to Medicare Advantage or the other way around. If you made changes during this time, the benefits would start kicking in the January 1 of the succeeding year.
Look for 5-Star Plans
If you want the best healthcare during retirement, you must be proactive when evaluating available plans. Not all Medicare Advantage plans are the same. Good thing, there’s an easy way to narrow down your choices for Medicare health insurance provider.
Medicare Star Ratings rates Medicare Advantage and Part D plans from one to five stars. A five-star rating is the highest. These ratings are based on overall customer satisfaction and the quality of care you can expect for a particular plan. Hence, it’s best to focus on those with the highest possible rating to make the most of every dollar spent on your Medicare Advantage plan.
If you want to switch to a five-star Medicare plan, you can do so anytime. This is part of what is called the Special Enrolment Period.
Consider Other Things You Need to Pay
A low Medicare Advantage Premium may sound tempting, but you must consider other things you’ll have to pay. The health services you’ll avail of will not be entirely free. So, do your research to know other expenses that could come your way.
For instance, you’ll need to pay a deductible. It is the amount the insured individual will pay out of pocket before the benefits of the plan kick in. More so, there will also be copayments or coinsurance. It’s a percentage of the cost of the medical item or service you’ll avail of.
Watch Out for Zero Premiums
Medicare Advantage is available at a wide range of costs. You can find plans that require $0 premium. As mentioned above, you must factor in other costs, which can increase what you must pay out of your pocket.
While some plans can be expensive, they might be worth it. You can access a wider network of medical facilities and providers. Not to mention, you can enjoy more specialized care benefits, making every dollar worth it.
Your Original Medicare can minimize health-related costs. However, it may not be enough. As such, consider enrolling in Medicare Advantage if you’re planning your retirement. It can be a good way to save money as it has more comprehensive coverage. Different plans are available at varying premiums, so evaluate them carefully to make the right decision.