Nov 29, 2011

Medicare Open Enrollment: Your Time Is Valuable

By Jonathan Blum, Deputy Administrator and Director for the Center for Medicare

Have you ever gotten a great deal to try a new restaurant or dry cleaner, only to realize that it just wasn’t worth the hassle? Maybe it was on the other side of town, or the hours weren’t convenient, or there were too many exceptions.  We all like to get a good deal, but convenience is a big part of the value.

The same is true when it comes to choosing a health plan: convenience matters. So in addition to cost, coverage, and benefits, here are some other things you may want to consider as you compare Medicare options this year:

Doctor and hospital choice
You want to be comfortable with the people you’re working with, especially when it comes to something as private as your health. Do the doctors you know accept your coverage? Where are the doctors’ offices? What are their hours? Do they often keep you waiting?

Pharmacy access
Is the pharmacy you use included in your drug plan’s network?  Do they use e-prescribing? Can you get refills by mail? Remember that plan networks can change from year to year. If it’s important to you to stay with the same  pharmacy, it’s worth checking to make sure they’ll still be in your plan’s network.

Maybe you travel a lot, or spend part of the year in a different state. If you do, make sure you know whether your coverage will travel with you.

Ask yourself whether you’re truly satisfied with your medical care. Not all health care is created equal, and the doctors, hospitals and facilities you choose can impact your health. Look for plans with a 5‑star performance rating — the right expertise and care may help speed your recovery and improve your outcomes.

Your time is valuable — and so is your health. The health care law brought more benefits and better choice to the Medicare program, but only you know what mix of coverage and convenience is most important to you and your family.

That’s why we’re working hard to make sure you have choice and control over the Medicare benefits you’ve earned.  Look around for all the Medicare information out there.  And visit our Open Enrollment center, where we’ve gathered everything you need, including a video on how the Medicare Plan Finder works, to walk through your options.