Medicare Advantage Is One Choice During the Open Enrollment Period.
If you’re one of the more than four and a half million Floridians enrolled in Medicare, from October 15 to December 7 you can review your options and make some changes during the Medicare Open Enrollment Period. You may be considering a Medicare Advantage Plan, and Millennium Physician Group Primary-Care Provider Rick Waks, DO, shares some need-to-know information.
“They want to make sure that their primary care and the specialists that they want to
see are available on that plan,” he advises. Most Medicare Advantage plans have extra benefits beyond what original Medicare offers such as:
- dental care
- eye exams
- glasses and corrective lenses
- hearing tests and hearing aids
- wellness programs and fitness memberships
- stipends for over-the-counter necessities
“I would say it's absolutely a great option,” advises Dr. Waks. “A lot of the patients will
get cheaper copays, cheaper medications.”
No and low-cost plans and out-of-pocket caps can also be attractive. Dr. Waks says that
compared to 10 years ago, he is seeing double and triple the number of patients opting
for Medicare Advantage plans.
“The Medicare Advantage plans offer a lot more options,” he says. “Things can be
cheaper, more tests available. Different doctors are in these plans. You really should
look into your different options and see what's available and works best for you. It's one
of the best benefits of turning 65.”
What You Need to Know When Considering a Medicare Advantage Plan
Camilita Aldridge is a Program Manager For SHINE (Serving Health Insurance Needs of Elders), a free program offered by the Florida Department of Elder Affairs and Your Area Agency on Aging. It’s her job to help simplify Medicare options for thousands of seniors every year, and she answers the top questions she gets about Medicare Advantage Plans.
“What folks are attracted to with the Medicare Advantage Plans are zero premium for many of the plans,” she explains “They include additional benefits that Medicare doesn't cover such as hearing, dental, vision.”
In fact, a survey by Medicareguide.com found a majority of Medicare Advantage enrollees listed access to vision benefits as the top reason for choosing their plan, with other benefits, like dental and drug coverage, scoring high.
“Every beneficiary is different when it comes to their medical needs,” Aldrige admits.
“And one of the first things that SHINE educates folks on is that Medicare is individual coverage. So you look for that coverage that is going to best meet your needs.”
And ahead of Open Enrollment, which runs October 15 through December 7, is the
perfect time to assess your needs. Ask yourself the following:
- Are your prescription drugs on the plan formulary?
- How much are your premiums, deductibles, copays, and coinsurance?
- Are you happy with the additional coverage, like dental, vision, hearing, fitness programs, mail-order pharmacy, and wellness services?
- Are your doctor and other providers in the plan network?
“With the Medicare Advantage plan, you have to consider network,” Aldridge warns.
“And when we say network, peoples’ minds automatically go to physicians, but that's just one piece of the puzzle. You have to think about hospitals, you have to think about labs, and you have to think about your specialists.”
To learn more about your Medicare options check out FloridaShine.org. Use the locator to find your local Area Agency on Aging. Or you can call the Elder Helpline at 866.413.5337. You can also connect with our partners, the Medicare experts at HealthShare360 at 239.744.7600 or FLMedicare.com.