Questions Abound When Considering Medicare Options

One of the benefits of membership at the Broken Arrow Senior Center is access to information. That knowledge comes in many forms – from friends, activity leaders, company representatives, industry experts, medical professionals – and, who knows, maybe even from me every once in a while.

This past month, the topic of Medicare has popped up a lot – at the bank, the pharmacy, a Zumba class and a United Way meeting. Now it might be that I’m just paying better attention, but it could be that the time to make any changes or to opt in is rapidly approaching.

I realize that we are a 55-plus organization and that you become Medicare-eligible at 65. However, the average age of our members is 73, so we’re going to spend a bit of time this month on the topic of Medicare. We know many of you will be considering an array options and changes so you can sign up for the coverage that meets your health care needs as well as your budget. There’s a more in-depth article about Medicare on page 13.

It’s up to you to get ready. It’s up to you to be informed. It’s up to you to be your own advocate. And if you miss the deadline – especially if you are new to being 65 – you may end up paying much higher premiums.

Did I mention that you must do a good deal of homework before you can even determine what option is best for you? To help narrow your scope of priorities, I’ve collected some of the top questions to consider when you are choosing between Medicare and Medicare Advantage or between different Medicare Advantage plans.

Will you be able to use your current doctors? Are they in the plan’s network? What if they’re not in the network? What about specialists? Do you need a referral first? Is your preferred hospital, home health/home help agency, senior and skilled nursing facility in the plan’s network? What if you need care and you’re out of state or out of the country?

What costs should you expect? What about premiums, deductibles, co-pays and your out-of-pocket max? Should you find an option for dental, hearing and vision coverage?

Before you’ve barely started exploring your options, you’re already considering more than a dozen questions. You could spend an entire day just contemplating prescription drug coverage.

What about prescription drug coverage premiums, deductibles and co-payments? How much are brand-name drugs? Generics? Can you use your pharmacy? Can you get your drugs through mail order? Delivery? Compounding? Canada? Can you get 30- or 90-day supplies? What about when you travel?

As you can see, there’s a lot to consider. Over the next few months, we are going to provide opportunities for our members to explore these questions. You’ll be able to learn from industry experts and get help finding the right plan that fits your unique needs.

You should never feel alone in this journey. Be on the lookout for more details in the weeks and months to come.