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How to Choose a Medicare Plan

Upon reaching the age of 65, you become eligible for Medicare. But the popular belief is that it is free, which is wrong, and you have to know the nitty-gritties of the process before you actually sign up. Otherwise, you’ll find it very expensive.

Even after being on Medicare for years, you may still want to review your options annually, making sure that you’re on the right plan. Yearly, you can switch plans when you want to, from October 15 through December 7.

If you have a Medicare Part D drug plan or a Medicare Advantage plan, the more it becomes important to review your options yearly, since these two plans change certain features every now and then, like covered drugs, copay amounts, etc.

Medicare plans are split into the following categories:

Part A (Hospital Care, Skilled Nursing, Hospice and Some Home Health Care)

This Part is free for those who have a Social Security work history of no shorter than 10 years, and their premium will be dictated by the number of Social Security work credits they have.

Part B (Doctor Visits, Preventive Care, Outpatient Care And Hospitals, And Some Home Health Care)

In 2018, this is going to average $134 monthly for most beneficiaries with yearly incomes equal to or not exceeding $85,000 ($170,000 for couples), and as much as $428.60 for those who earn more than $214,000 ($428,000 for a couple) annually. If you’re like most people, you will probably need a Medigap plan on top of Parts A & B.

Part C – Medical Advantage Plan

Some private companies contract with Medicare to provide all Part A and Part B benefits, while many plans also offer Part D coverage. The plan and the region dictate the premiums, but the Medical Advantage average in 2018 is $30, which is 6% less than that in 2017.

Part D – Prescription Drugs

Premiums in 2018 average $33,50, which is lower than last year’s $34.70.

The first important decision Medicare beneficiaries must make is whether they shoudl go for traditional coverage (Parts A, B and D) or a Medical Advantage plan (Part C). Medical Advantage plans can have low or zero monthly premiums, but they often restrict members to certain doctors and hospitals. Both come with deductibles, copays and coinsurance, where you need to foot a part of the bill.

If you opt for traditional Medicare, simply add a Medicap policy, which is supplemental in that it takes care of whatever Medicare doesn’t. There are 10 types of Medicap policies, each offered by a private company or group, and their costs differ significantly. To make the wisest choice, take time to review every plan as carefully as you can.

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