Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Last Chance to Choose Your Medicare Advantage Plan Before December 31st

Keep in mind that seniors on privately run Medicare Advantage plans used to be able to change their options in an open enrollment period after the first of the year.  But the new health care law changed that.  Now December 31st is a firm deadline---and some of the offices that can answer your questions will be closed around Christmas and New Year.
If you're happy with your plan, leave things alone.  If you're considering a switch, you have some homework to do.
Probably what might cause you the greatest amount of difficulty is that you hear of a plan that may save you money on co-pays and you neglect to find out if your doctor takes that plan.  Or, you may have surgery scheduled and when you change plans when you have a surgery scheduled, that new plan now has to receive prior authorization.
If you don't change plans it pays to see if your favorite doctor or hospital has decided to drop out.
Plan changing may not save you much money right now because just about all plans are raising their rates. 
However, look past the cost of routine co-pays to see what a plan charges for the big stuff.
Look at what your co-pays would be should you become an in-patient.  We don't know what the next year will bring.  Look at the higher cost of items such as in-patient hospitalization and what you might have to pay for out-patient type of surgeries because more things are being done on an out-patient basis.
Keep in mind that this information is for Medicare Advantage plans only, the ones run by private companies. 
If you like, you can return to regular government-run Medicare after January first.

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