When deciding on a Medicare plan there are some pitfalls to avoid, as well as some simple factors to know and understand that will prevent worry and save you money.

Pitfalls to Avoid

  • Do not choose a plan because your family member or friend has the same plan. Medicare is an “individual sport” and what works well for one person may not work as well for you.
  • Do not choose a plan based on your doctor’s recommendation. Not that the advice is intentionally harmful, but there are so many plans that most doctors do not understand the differences and give advice based on familiarity.
  • Selecting a Medicare Prescription plan from the same carrier you selected your Medicare Supplement plan from because you think it will be less complicated.
  • Do not hesitate to explore your options. One of the answers we here most when someone obviously is on a plan that doesn’t fit well and we ask why they chose the plan is “I had insurance with them through my employer before Medicare.” Medicare is a completely different division and often different company with most providers.

Factors to Use to Your Advantage

  • Know what plans your hospital of choice and medical providers accept.
  • Run your prior year costs, based on usage. When choosing a plan, it can be hard to imagine how much it will cost for different benefits. You have the best example right in front of you, run it!
  • Look at best case, worst case, and most likely scenarios to understand the financial impact of the plan you choose.
  • Run your prescription plan and find the cheapest alternatives for each prescription. This can be affected by where you get it, what brand you use, how you pay, and if any prescriptions have special requirements according to Medicare or your plan.
  • Use the following 5 criteria when selecting a Supplement. # of members, loss ratio, increase history, rating type, and price.

Finally, the best advice I would give a person starting on Medicare is self-serving, but no less true. Get an advisor to help with these items. Take advantage of their expertise, because it is free and amazing how simple they can make it to get a plan that fits your needs and saves you money. Find an advisor you trust and that will take the time to walk through the options available. Your advisor should be willing to assist with any customer service problems. If your advisors answer to issues is to always instruct you to call customer service of your carrier? Find a new advisor, one that has your best interest at heart not just their pocket book.

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