By Rick Beavin
The annual Medicare Advantage and Medicare Prescription Drug Plan enrollment period is approaching. From October 15 to December 7, millions of people eligible for Medicare can sign up, switch or leave a health care plan to fit their coverage needs for 2022. Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, Medicare information and resources are available to help you choose the plan that’s right for you while staying safe. Websites, online educational events and one-on-one meetings with sales agents are all great ways to learn about your Medicare plan options. At the same time, it’s important to access Medicare resources online while protecting your personal information and avoiding fake offers and other scams.
Here are some tips for how to prepare for the Medicare annual enrollment period:
Use an online tool
Go to the Medicare Plan Finder on Medicare.gov to compare plans, benefits and get an estimated cost for each plan based on an average member. If you are interested in Medicare Part D, which helps cover the cost of prescription medications, you can also enter the names of prescription medications you take to ensure those medications are covered by the plan you are considering.
On Medicare.gov, you can also learn about and enroll in Medicare Advantage plans, sometimes called Part C or MA Plans, and visit an insurance company’s website to understand more about what they offer. Insurance companies that offer Medicare Advantage plans can provide detailed information about their plans and services, plus prescription pricing information and other benefits. You can also check whether your primary care physician or other providers are in-network with the Medicare Advantage plan.
Connect with experts
Many insurance companies are offering online workshops to review 2022 Medicare Advantage plan options. Also, check to see if you can schedule a one-on-one meeting with an insurance company sales agent in-person or by phone or video chat. Before you attend an education event or meeting, it’s a good idea to prepare a list of questions so that you can ensure you get the information you need. Does the plan include vision, hearing and dental coverage? Will telehealth services be covered? Is transportation to your medical appointments included?
Protect yourself against Medicare scams
The federal Medicare agency has warned that scammers may try to use the pandemic to steal Medicare beneficiaries’ Medicare numbers, banking information or other personal data. Scammers may try to reach out to you by phone, email, text message, social media or by visiting your home. Only give your Medicare number to your doctor, pharmacist, hospital, health insurer or other trusted health care provider. Do not click links in text messages and emails from unknown sources, and hang up on unsolicited phone calls.
If you are not comfortable accessing plan information online, you will have the option to meet in-person with an agent this year. Or Medicare.gov has an option for setting up a phone call. To learn more, go to Medicare.gov or call 1-800-MEDICARE (800-633-4227).
Beavin is Desert Pacific Medicare President at Humana.