The annual registration period for the selection of Medicare options is in full swing. Medicare Coverage decisions can only be made between October 15 and December 7 of each year. “Special electoral periods” may under certain circumstances allow for changes during other parts of the year.
The annual registration period receives a lot of attention, insurance company advertising and commentary. What is at stake?
Medicare services in Part A and Part B is provided by the government. Private insurance companies sell supplementary insurance to cover many of the costs not covered by Part A and Part B and Part D drug coverage. This is classic “Original Medicare”.
Private insurance companies also offer Part C “Medicare Advantage” plans. These offer original Medicare services; often with other benefits.
This will not overlook the details of all decisions. Here we will discuss the choice between the original Medicare options and the Medicare Advantage options. The bottom line is the potential additional costs that a person has to carry in any case.
Original Medicare has bought premiums for Part B and any supplementary policy. However, there are fewer co-pays and coinsurance. Medicare Advantage plans often have much lower monthly premiums, but often higher co-pay and co-insurance; but there is maximum “total out-of-pocket” spending to protect against the high costs of hospitalization and other causes.
Original Medicare is usually best for someone who needs more medical attention. Although the premium is higher than most Medicare Advantage plans, lower co-pay and co-insurance costs may be the better choice. If there is any meaning there will be no need for much medical attention, a Medicare Advantage plan might be the better way to go. The lower premium saves money over Original Medicare Part B and a Supplement Policy; and there is a cap if you need more medical care than expected. In addition, Medicare Advantage Plans often have additional benefits such as vision or dental benefits that Original Medicare does not have.
The attempt to calculate the possible cost differences is quite challenging. But the general principles are a good indication of what to pay attention to. When it’s clear that a lot of medical help is needed, the original Medicare plan should be considered.
If the expectation is that little medical attention is needed, then a Medicare Advantage plan can have the benefit of a lower monthly premium; but, maybe, some additional benefits.
Costs are always important. However, if you have favorite doctors and other providers, make sure you’re on the network of a Medicare Advantage plan. If you do not see the doctor of your choice or get the medicines you need, any cost savings is not worth it. Your good health is the most important preference of all.
Most importantly, remember to complete your selection before December 7th. If you do not, you may find yourself stuck in a plan you may not like until next year.
In addition, Original Medicare does not limit your annual costs. Health insurances due for co-insurance will be increased throughout the year if you do not have supplementary insurance to manage these costs. This is in contrast to Medicare Advantage plans, which thrives with the concept of networks.