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Article Archive >> Senior Life

Baby boomers should start their Medicare planning early

Baby boomers should start their Medicare planning early
by Ross Blair

(NAPS)-Here's some Medicare advice every baby boomer should adhere to: Don't wait until the last minute to plan or enroll.
You have the option to change your drug coverage each year, and some plan types allow you to enroll at any time. But it can cost you money if you wait too long or make a bad choice. Here are five tips for Medicare newcomers.
1. Learn the basics. There are two basic ways to cover yourself: Original Medicare (Part A and Part B) or a Medicare Advantage plan.
If you choose Original Medicare, you'll likely also need a separate prescription drug benefit (Medicare Part D). And you may want a Medicare Supplement (or Medigap) plan to fill in some gaps in Original Medicare.
Medicare Advantage plans typically include a prescription drug benefit (Medicare Part D). Some may also provide things like vision and dental coverage.
2. Choose an affordable plan. Calculate your income: Social Security benefits, pensions, etc. Then, list your expenses: mortgage/rent, food, etc. Balance the two and see what you have left for Medicare coverage.
There are Medicare plans available with no monthly premiums, beyond the standard Social Security deductions for parts A and B. If you know what you can afford, it's easier to shop.
3. Evaluate your health. Talk to your doctor about your health and long-term health risks. Then, look for coverage that fits your specific needs. Be aware that some Medicare supplement plans charge a higher premium based on your age, so be sure to consider this when evaluating the long-term costs of a specific plan.
4. Get the right drug benefit. If you take prescription drugs, a drug comparison tool like the one at www.PlanPrescriber.com can help you pick a plan that covers your drugs at the lowest possible cost. Not all drug plans cover the same drugs, at the same price or in the same quantities. Trying to calculate the costs on your own is daunting, but a drug comparison tool makes it easy. Do this every year during the annual enrollment period.
5. Challenge brand loyalty. Some plans come from companies you've heard of. Investigate brands you trust but also consider plan prices.
All Medicare Supplement plan types (there are 10: A,B,C,D,F,G,K,L,M and N) must offer the same benefits. A K supplement plan from one insurer must, by law, cover the same services as a K supplement plan from another insurer in the same area. But costs for Ks can vary widely. Use an online comparison tool to compare benefits and prices side by side and make an informed decision.
6. Ask for help. There are resources online, by phone and in person. You can call PlanPrescriber at (800) 404-6968 or call the State Health Insurance Assistance Program or the federal government's (800) MEDICARE.
_ Mr. Blair is president and CEO of PlanPrescriber, Inc., a leading provider of comparison tools and educational materials for Medicare-related insurance products.
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services has neither reviewed nor endorsed the information provided by PlanPrescriber.

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