Nov 01, 2011

Medicare Open Enrollment: Looking at Costs

By Jonathan Blum, Deputy Administrator and Director for the Center of 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 a primary driver in any marketplace, 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.  But getting good value out of your health insurance still requires you to make smart choices.

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?

Prescription drug coverage is another part of the cost puzzle. How much will your prescriptions cost under each plan?  Does the plan cover the drugs you take? Remember that this year, thanks to the Affordable Care Act, everyone who reaches the Part D coverage gap (or “donut hole”) will benefit from a 50% discount on covered brand-name drugs.

Finding the right plan can save you hundreds — or even thousands — over the course of a year. In Florida, State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP) counselors used the Medicare Plan Finder to help one senior find a drug plan that covered all but one of her 17 medications, saving her $510 a month in co-payments. 

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. Sometimes that shopping takes more time or can feel overwhelming. That’s why we want to help you take control over your Medicare coverage.  Look around for all the Medicare information out there, visit our Open Enrollment center, and watch a video about how the Medicare Plan Finder works. After you’ve narrowed your options, you can call the plans you’re interested in to get more details about their benefits and services, or check out their websites.

Whether groceries, health insurance, phone plans or anything else, you want value for your dollar.  Make sure you have the most up-to-date information out there.