2017 Medicare open enrollment period (OEP) is now underway and typically, retirees are restricted and cannot change their plans until the Medicare Open Enrollment Period which is October 15th to December 7th each year unless you turn 65 during the year prior to the OEP dates, then you can enroll as soon as you are eligible.
The cost for Medicare supplement plans can vary as wide as 68% between the lowest and highest rates within the top 10 metropolitan areas in the United States according to the 2016 National Medicare Supplement Price index rate comparisons. This mean you can potentially save hundreds of dollars on your monthly premiums every month by carefully shopping around.
Keep in mind that Medicare is only aimed at providing the basic health care coverage which leaves a significant amount of health care coverage costs which is not included. There are 2 choices when you decide on how you can insure for the uncovered costs. You can purchase a Medicare supplement plan known as Medigap insurance or you can choose a Medicare Advantage Plan (MA plan) or coverage under Medicare Part C.
All retirees may purchase these types of health care coverage either on an individual basis or some might be eligible via their former employer.
These types of plans in general give you freedom to have a choice among different providers who accept Medicare payments. So the Medicare supplement plans help pay costs that Medicare doesn’t cover like co-payments, deductibles, co-insurance, etc. Medicare Advantage plans typically restrict the consumer to a particular or specific networks or networks for their health care providers which is similar to a HMO or a PPO.
Generally, Medigap policies do not cover cost for long term care; dental or vision, eyeglasses, hearing aids, as well as private duty nursing.
When comparing amounts for premiums you may pay to a Medicare Advantage Plan you will need to make sure you compare apples to apples. There are MA plans that are called (zero premiums plans) and don’t require additional premiums over the usual Part B premium. As well keep in mind most MA Plans will include coverage for your prescription drugs.
Comparing your total costs for premiums under a MA plan VS a Medigap plan you need to include your Medicare Part B premium, or the premium that’s paid to the MA provider or the premium that’s paid for your Medigap insurance. Also the premium paid for Part D prescriptions drugs if you have gone the Medigap route.