Medicare Open Enrollment: Be a smart shopper

By: Jonathan Blum, CMS Acting Principal Deputy Administrator and Director, Center for Medicare

In today’s world, we’re all a little more conscious of costs. Maybe we clip a few more coupons, eat out less, or compare ads to find the best price on something before we buy. Cost is an important factor in any purchase, and health care is no different. We know you want to get the best value possible from your health care coverage. Wouldn’t most of us like to get more and pay less for things that are important to us?

The good news is the health care law has gone a long way toward lowering overall costs in the Medicare program. Average premiums for prescription drug coverage and Medicare health plans will stay around the same in 2013. People who are in Medicare’s prescription drug coverage gap (“donut hole”) will continue to save money in 2013 with big discounts on brand-name prescription drugs. Since the health care law was enacted in 2010, more than 5.5 million people with Medicare have saved nearly $4.5 billion on prescription drugs in the donut hole. 

But you still need to make smart choices to get good value out of your health insurance.

There may be dozens of Medicare plans in your area, all with different costs and levels of coverage. Ask yourself:

  • How much are each plan’s premiums and deductibles?
  • How much will I pay for the benefits and services I’m likely to use?
  • Is there a limit on what I’ll have to pay out-of-pocket for the year?
  • Does the plan cover the drugs I take?
  • How much will my prescriptions cost under each plan?

Only you can determine what mix of benefits and costs will work best with your needs and budget. Shopping around can make a huge difference, and we want to help. Use the Medicare Plan Finder to look at all of the health and drug plan options in your area. If you still need help comparing, call 1‑800‑MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227). TTY users should call 1-877-486-2048.

Whether it’s groceries, health insurance, phone plans or anything else, we all want the best value for our dollar. Make sure you have the most up-to-date information out there and be a smart shopper during Medicare Open Enrollment – which ends on December 7.