Medicare Open Enrollment: Be a smart shopper

It’s always a good idea to shop around. Cost is an important factor in any purchase, especially when it comes to health insurance, but it’s not the only thing to consider.

There may be dozens of Medicare plans in your area, all with different costs and levels of coverage. How much are each plan’s premiums and deductibles? How much will you pay for the benefits and services you’re likely to use? Is there a limit on what you’ll have to pay out-of-pocket for the year? If you’re currently in a plan, how does that plan compare to the other plans that are available? Thinking about these things will help you make a smart choice to get good value that meets your personal health care needs.

Prescription drug coverage is another thing to consider. Does your health plan include coverage for prescription drugs? Or will you need to find a separate Medicare Part D plan for drug coverage? How much will your prescriptions cost under each plan? Does the plan cover the drugs you take? Remember, everyone who reaches the Part D coverage gap (or “donut hole”) will benefit from a discount of 65% on covered brand-name drugs.

Only you can determine what mix of benefits and costs will work best with your needs and budget, but we can help. The Medicare Plan Finder makes it easy to compare plans so you can pick a plan that’s right for you. After you’ve narrowed your options, call the plans you’re interested in to get more details about their benefits and services, or check out their websites.

You have until December 7, 2017 to review, compare, and join a 2018 plan.

Love your bones

About 25% of women and 6% of men 65 and over will get osteoporosis. Osteoporosis is a condition where your bones become weak and puts you at a greater risk for broken bones. In fact, many people don’t know they have it until they break a bone. However, there are steps you can take to make your bones stronger and healthier.

A bone mass measurement can help to see if you’re at risk for broken bones. This can help you find ways to strengthen your bones early and prevent breaks and fractures. Medicare covers this test at no cost if your doctor accepts assignment.

World Osteoporosis Day is October 20 – make this the day you show your bones some love. Talk to your doctor about how you can keep your bones healthy.

Medicare Open Enrollment: ready to choose a plan?

Medicare Open Enrollment starts today! Choosing a plan is an important and personal decision. Now’s the time to think about what matters to you, and find the Medicare plan that meets your needs. Here are some things to think about:

Does the plan cover the services you need?

Think about what services and benefits you’re likely to use in the coming year and find coverage that meets your needs. If you have other types of health or prescription drug coverage, make sure you understand how that coverage works with Medicare. And, if you travel a lot, does your plan cover you when you’re away from home?

No matter what plan you choose, you’ll get these benefits:

What does the plan cost?

The lowest-cost health plan option might not be the best choice for you—consider things like the cost of premiums and deductibles, how much you pay for hospital stays and doctor visits, and whether it’s important for you to have expenses balanced throughout the year.

Are the plan’s providers and rules convenient?

Your time is valuable. Where are the doctors’ offices? What are their hours? Which pharmacies can you use? Can you get prescriptions by mail? Do the doctors use electronic health records or prescribe electronically?

What plans perform the best?

Not all health care is created equal, and the doctors, hospitals and facilities you choose can affect your health. Open Enrollment is also a good time to ask yourself whether you’re truly satisfied with your medical care. Look for plans with a 5‑star performance rating—the right expertise and care can make a difference.

Remember that even if you’re happy with your current plan, these answers might change from year to year—so it’s important to take the time to compare. The Medicare Plan Finder makes it easy to compare plans based on all of these factors, so you can choose a plan that meets your needs.

Take care of your mental health

Depression is the leading cause of disability in the world. In the US, it affects 5% of people 12 and over. People with depression can suffer from many different symptoms, including:

  • Feelings of sadness or hopelessness
  • Loss of interest in activities
  • Change in weight
  • Being more or less active than usual
  • Difficulty sleeping or sleeping too much
  • Feeling tired
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Suicidal thoughts

If you’re experiencing these symptoms, talk to your doctor about getting a depression screening. Medicare covers this once per year and you pay nothing if your doctor accepts assignment.

Celebrate World Mental Health Day October 10th – talk to your doctor about how to take charge of your mental health.

Stop the flu before it starts

Fall is here, which means pumpkins, falling leaves, and the flu! Getting your free flu shot is the best way to protect yourself and loved ones this season.

Get your flu shot early and stay healthy! Flu viruses change from year to year, so it’s important to get a flu shot each flu season. It’s free for people with Medicare, once per flu season when it’s given by doctors or other health care providers (like senior centers and pharmacies) that take Medicare. Learn more about the flu and find a flu vaccine location near you at Flu.gov.

Get your free flu shot today!

Medicare Open Enrollment is coming soon—add it to your fall checklist

Just like the changing leaves, did you know that the fall also brings your chance to make changes to your Medicare coverage? Medicare Open Enrollment is October 15–December 7. It’s your chance to review your health care coverage and see if you need to make any changes for next year. Or, you may decide you’re happy with the plan you have now. If that’s the case, and the plan is still being offered next year, you don’t need to do anything.

Over the next few months, look aroundyou’ll find information about your Medicare benefits in these everyday places:

  • In the mail

Look through your mail carefullyyou may get important notices from your current plan, Medicare, or Social Security about changes to your coverage or any Extra Help you may get paying for prescription drugs.

Also, look for your new “Medicare & You” handbook. It has information about all of the Medicare plans in your area.

You’ll also start to see brochures from companies that offer Medicare health and drug plans. You may decide that a Medicare health plan is right for you. Just remember, be smart about protecting your personal information and your identityplans aren’t allowed to call or come to your home without an invitation from you.

  • On your computer

Comparing your plan choices is important. Our Medicare Plan Finder is ready with all of the 2018 health and drug plan cost information to make it as easy as possible. Enter the drugs you take to find out how you can lower your costs and review the plan’s ratings to compare plan quality. If you find a plan that meets your needs, you’ll be able to join the plan online starting October 15. If you haven’t used the Plan Finder before, check out our video to help you get started.

  • In your community

You may find a local eventsomewhere right around the corner, with health insurance counselors to help you, like your State Health Insurance Assistance Program. Don’t miss the chance to get personalized help if you need it!

Have you gotten your yearly mammogram?

Over 220,000 women are diagnosed with breast cancer each year, making it one of the most common cancers in women. Getting a yearly mammogram is the best way to find breast cancer early.

Mammograms are breast cancer screenings that can detect a lump up to 3 years before you or your doctor can feel it. This helps to detect breast cancer early, when it’s most treatable. All women between the ages of 50–74 should have a mammogram every 2 years—and Medicare covers mammograms at no cost if your doctor accepts assignment. Talk to your doctor about the benefits and risks and to schedule your next screening.

October is Breast Cancer Awareness month—help fight breast cancer and get your yearly mammogram!