Jan 19, 2012

Are You Ready for 2012? 5 Questions to Ask Yourself

Now that it’s January, here are a few things to ask yourself to make sure you’re ready for 2012.

1. Do you have the right insurance card to use when you go to the doctor?
If you changed your health or drug plan during Medicare’s Open Enrollment period and haven’t gotten your new card or welcome packet, contact your plan for help.

If you changed from a Medicare Advantage Plan (like an HMO or PPO) back to Original Medicare, use your red, white, and blue Medicare card when you go to the doctor. Get a new card if you lost or damaged yours, or need to update your information.

2. Did you budget for this year’s Medicare Part B deductible?
Don’t forget, if you have Medicare Part B and are in Original Medicare, now that it’s a new year you’ll have to meet your deductible before your Medicare coverage pays for services and supplies.

This year, the Medicare Part B deductible is $140 – lower than last year! Make sure to plan your health care budget to account for the increased cost of doctor visits for the time that it will take to cover your deductible.

3. Have you made appointments to get any preventive tests or screenings?
Medicare covers many preventive services to keep you healthy and screenings to check for health problems. Many of these services are covered each year. Ask your doctor when during the year you should schedule your wellness visit and other screenings. You can also use mymedicare.gov to track your visits and make a calendar of preventive services.

Medicare also covers 2 new preventive services:       

1. Alcohol Misuse Screenings       
2. Depression Counseling

Talk to your doctor about these covered preventive services to find out what’s right for your health needs.

4. Does your drug or health plan meet your needs?
If not, Medicare has a new way for you to get the coverage you want instead of having to wait for this year’s Open Enrollment. At any time during the year, you can switch to a Medicare Advantage Plan or Medicare Prescription Drug Plan that has a 5-star rating.

Plan ratings are based on member surveys, information from doctors and health care providers, and other sources. The plan ratings are scores that show the quality and performance of the plan, on a scale of 1 to 5 stars, with 5 being the highest rated plans.

You can make this change once per calendar year. Find 5-star health and drug plans in your area.

5. Is your doctor using Electronic Health Records and Electronic Prescribing to provide better care?
Using Electronic Health Records (EHRs) and electronic prescribing can help reduce paperwork, medical errors, and health care costs. These methods can also help doctors communicate better with each other about your care. For example, when you visit a specialist, your primary care doctor can send them your screening information and results. That way, you won’t have to have duplicate screenings and tests. Ask your doctor about what they’re doing to use EHRs and electronic prescribing to better coordinate your health care.

Remember to check Medicare.gov for the latest Medicare news and information, and have a healthy 2012.