Are you newly Medicare eligible (turning 65), planning to retire soon, or have had Medicare for years and wonder if you’re in the right plan? Regardless, Medicare can be confusing. Ryan Dolan, Medicare Consultant Manager at Excellus BlueCross BlueShield offers these easy tips about finding a Medicare plan that’s right for you.
Who is eligible for Medicare?
Anyone 65 years of age or older is eligible for Medicare. You also could qualify if you receive Social Security disability for 24 consecutive months or if you have certain chronic conditions.
We’re hearing a lot right now about signing up for Medicare. Why?
We are currently in Medicare’s Annual Election Period – or AEP. AEP is typically the one time each year when you can make changes to your plan. It runs every year from October 15 through December 7.
Why is AEP important?
Anyone who is already on a Medicare plan should pay attention to AEP. Available plans and options, as well as your health conditions and medications can change every year. It’s always a good idea to see what is out there. if you’re only enrolled with original Medicare parts A (hospital) & B (medical), then this is your chance to get enhanced coverage with a Medicare Advantage plan.
However, if you’re happy with your plan, then you don’t have to make a change.
What are some reasons to change plans?
Because benefits and plans change each year, it’s always a good idea to do your research. Reviewing your medical visits and prescription drug costs for a typical year will help you select a plan that meets your needs.
Consider new or upcoming changes in your health or life situation that might impact your needs. Have you been diagnosed with a chronic condition or has your income dropped sharply? Are you planning to have a surgery in the upcoming year? Do you need to see a specific doctor who doesn’t participate in your current plan?
What are the things to consider when looking for a Medicare plan?
There are a few important things to consider:
- First, look for a Medicare plan that meets your budget and needs. Many coverage options start with a zero-dollar premium plan. A $0 plan means you don’t have to pay a premium each month, but you may have out-of-pocket costs (such as co-pays when you go to the doctor). These plans provide your core medical benefits – as well as things that original Medicare doesn’t cover, like preventive dental and eye care.
- Be sure a plan has all your physicians and other providers in its contracted network.
- If you take prescription drugs on a regular basis, it’s important to look for a plan that includes the drugs you take and the co-pays and cost-sharing for each.
- Does the plan have certain benefits you value, such as coverage for dental, hearing or vision services? Or rides to health-related locations and allowances for over-the-counter medications?
What are some of the new trends in Medicare coverage?
This year, you’ll see many new benefits such as better dental coverage, flex cards, free transportation to medical appointments, and meal delivery after a hospital stay. At Excellus BlueCross BlueShield one of the things our members are most excited about is that our dental coverage for all plans in all regions has no co-pay for routine care such as cleanings and X-rays, plus $1,000 annual allowance for comprehensive dental such as crowns, root canals and fillings.
Is there anything else I should think about when choosing a plan?
I recommend looking for a plan that’s local. Excellus BlueCross BlueShield is a local, nonprofit health insurer with more than 4,000 employees who call upstate New York home. Improving the health and quality of life of our communities is what we’re all about. Our plans are designed by members of our community, for members of our community.
Why is that important?
When designing our plans, we listened to people throughout our communities and added more of what they wanted. For example, we asked our employees who served in the military how we could enhance coverage for local veterans and designed a plan around that.
This is great information, Ryan. Is there someone who can help me compare plans and figure out what’s best for me?
Absolutely! At Excellus BlueCross BlueShield, our Medicare experts can walk you through all available options and help choose a plan that’s right for you. We can meet with members at a time and location that is most convenient for them:
- Face-to-face in our resource center
- Through our toll-free telephone number where dedicated Medicare Customer Care advocates can answer questions
- Through our hand-picked network of independent brokers
For more information or to schedule an appointment, go to ExcellusForMedicare.com or call 1-877-406-4823 (TTY:711) 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. seven days a week, from October 1 through March 31, and 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday-Friday from April 1 through September 30.
Joy Auch (585) 238-4374
Excellus BlueCross BlueShield is an HMO and PPO plan with a Medicare contract.
Enrollment in Excellus BlueCross BlueShield depends on contract renewal.
Excellus BlueCross BlueShield complies with applicable Federal civil rights laws and does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, age, disability, or sex.
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Excellus BlueCross BlueShield, an independent licensee of the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association, is a nonprofit health plan with 1.5 million upstate New York members. The company's mission is to help people live healthier and more secure lives through access to high-quality, affordable health care. Its products and services include cost-saving prescription drug discounts, wellness tracking tools and access to telemedicine. With more than 4,000 employees, the company is committed to attracting and retaining a diverse workforce to foster innovation and better serve its members. It also encourages employees to engage in their communities by providing paid volunteer time off as one of many benefits. To learn more, visit ExcellusBCBS.com.