Over the years, you’ve reached several milestones: Birthdays, weddings, promotions, maybe even grandchildren. Turning 65 is another one of those moments to cherish. Not only are you wiser, but maybe now you’re free to travel, pursue your passions and spend more time with family. And those are all things to celebrate. It’s also your chance to sign up for a Medicare plan.
But where should you start? First, take a moment to ask yourself: How can my Medicare plan help me live the life I want?
That means considering not only your health needs, like the prescription drugs you take and how many times you need to visit the doctor, but also your personal ambitions. Do you plan to travel? Spend more time with your family? Take up a new activity?
Take time to consider how you want to spend your time. What are your goals? And your needs? It all matters when deciding about Medicare. And of course, your budget makes a difference as well.
Take a moment to ask yourself: How can my Medicare plan help me live the life I want?
Asking yourself the right questions can help ensure you’re on the right path as you take the next step in your journey. Since coverage options vary by plan, you want to make sure to get the coverage that meets your needs.
Here are some things you should consider:
Do you want to speed-read your way through your favorite author’s latest novel? Or are you dreaming of the moment you hear your granddaughter’s first coos? You want to make sure nothing gets in the way of living each moment to its fullest. And that means protecting your vision, maintaining proper oral health and keeping track of any changes in your hearing. Always consider your current and future needs as you sift through your coverage options:
Finding the right doctor is an important part of your health care journey. So if you’re considering a Medicare Advantage plan, you should know that some require you to see primary doctors and specialists in their network. Others will allow you to choose any doctor, but at a higher cost. You’ll need to weigh whether sticking with your current doctors, even if they aren’t in the network, is more important than the benefits you may get from an in-network provider. Often the network allows for better coordination of care between doctors, which can help you better manage your health care.
In contrast, Original Medicare is a national plan that doesn’t restrict which doctors you can see, as long as they accept Medicare. For instance, if you live six months of the year in New Jersey, and the other six in Florida, you’ll still be able to see doctors in both places. Since those doctors may not all be part of the same network, it might be harder for them to share information about your care, leaving you to do more of the legwork. And generally, Original Medicare doesn’t limit how much you pay for covered medical care each year. Learn more about how a Medicare Supplement can help you with additional expenses.
Here’s what you need to know:
If you’re planning to travel abroad while receiving Medicare benefits, be sure the plan you choose can travel with you. In general, Original Medicare does not cover expenses outside the United States and its territories. There are a few exceptions, however. For instance, if you get sick in the U.S. and a foreign hospital is closer than one in the U.S., Medicare may pay some of your medical bills.
Tip: If you travel frequently within the U.S. or plan to spend time away from your primary residence, check your plan’s network. Be sure you’ll have access to doctors that participate in your Medicare Advantage plan in the location you’ll be visiting.
If you want guaranteed international coverage, it’s best to supplement your coverage.
You may feel healthy now, but if want to stay that way, sometimes you might need to take medicine. If your doctor writes you a prescription, generally Original Medicare won’t cover it. So you’ll need to add a separate prescription drug plan. However, if you’d rather have just one plan, you can buy a Medicare Advantage plan that includes prescription drug benefits. When choosing any of these plans, here are some things to consider:
This is a busy time and you may be making a lot of changes in your life. Maybe your goal is to simplify things. If you’re not interested in adding a Medicare Supplement and prescription drug plan to your Original Medicare coverage but would rather have all your benefits in one place, you have an option.
Medicare Advantage plans, offered by private insurers, combine your hospital coverage (Part A) with medical coverage (Part B). Most plans include prescription drug coverage and offer coordination of care through their networks. One thing you’ll need to consider, though, is whether you should choose a Medicare Advantage plan that’s structured:
Now that you’ve considered these questions, you’re more prepared to pick a plan that will support your health needs. Then you can get back to doing the things that make you happy.
Christina Joseph Robinson is a veteran editor and writer from New Jersey who still loves to read the old-fashioned newspaper. She’s raising two fruit-and-veggie loving daughters to balance all the treats Grandma sends their way. Christina’s health goal is to resume her workout routine after being sidelined by injuries.
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