Now, more than ever before it is extremely important to shop and compare the available Medicare Advantage Plans for your area. Even if you have a plan that has no premium; don’t get to comfortable because they may be increasing their co-pays and/or deductibles. The other thing that normally occurs is one of the plans in the area will become very competitive in hopes of increasing market share. This is a great opportunity for beneficiaries to take advantage of lower co-pays and extra benefits!
Not All Medicare Advantage Plans Are Created Equal
When comparing Medicare Advantage plans there are several things that you should always look into. The first and most obvious one is the monthly premium. The important thing to note here is that a higher monthly premium does not always translate to better coverage. In fact, more often than not, plans carrying a larger premium will have lower benefits than plans that don’t. As far as costs are concerned you should also be concerned with the amount of the co-pays. Pay special attention to the co-pays that you will most likely be using, and less attention to the ones that are rarely used. For example, don’t get hung up on the durable medical equipment cost when you have never used oxygen, wheelchairs, or hospital beds in your home!
Always Compare Types of Networks in Medicare Advantage Plans
You should always start with the network when comparing Medicare Advantage plans. Sometimes a new plan will surface with unbelievable benefits, but since the plan is new there will be virtually no network built. This does not help you when you have several specialist that see on a regular basis. You should also look at whether the plan is an HMO or PPO. The HMO will typically save you on co-pays while the PPO will give you more flexibility. Start by looking up you doctors that you will not change in the plan’s provider directory. It’s also a good idea to look them up online on the plan’s website since the directories are generally outdated when they are printed. If your doctor’s are in the network than start looking at the plan’s benefits to see if they are an improvement over your current plan.
Don’t Forget About Prescription Drug Costs
Most of the Medicare Advantage Plans include prescription drug coverage. Always look your maintenance drugs up in the plan’s formulary to make sure 1st of all that they are covered by the plan and what the cost will be to you. Many of the plans change their formulary from year to year so you should always compare your drugs even if you are happy with the health coverage of the plan.