Invest the Time to Review Your Medicare Coverage

(StatePoint) As the end of the Medicare enrollment period approaches, new research shows that healthcare costs rank among the top living expenses seniors find hardest to afford. Yet, each year many seniors neglect to review their Medicare coverage to make sure they have the right plan for their needs at the right price.

“The Cost of Complacency,” a national survey released by WellCare Health Plans, Inc., shows that 62 percent of seniors do not review their Medicare plan to find the best deal and are more likely to look for money-saving deals on all their other common living expenses, such as utilities, cell phone and internet plans, travel and groceries.

Despite the fact that health problems and out-of-pocket expenses tend to increase with age, the survey found that more than 60 percent of seniors don’t bother reviewing their plans because they’re satisfied with their current one. But, relying on the past rather than protecting the future can be a costly mistake. According to a Kaiser Health study, people who switched Medicare plans after comparison shopping saved on average almost $200 a year.

“This apathy when it comes to Medicare coverage can have serious consequences for a retiree’s financial health,” said Bart Astor, author of the Washington Post bestseller, “AARP Roadmap for the Rest of Your Life.” “Not only is there a good chance that your health situation will decline over time, Medicare plans also change from year to year, so the plan you’re in now may not be the best plan for you going forward. That’s why it’s so important to review your options, including traditional Medicare and private coverage, such as Medicare Advantage plans.”

In addition to assessing the standard features of your Medicare coverage -- including premiums, deductibles, copayments, formularies and the plan’s doctor, hospital and pharmacy networks -- Astor recommends looking at the less obvious, but potentially costly, plan components.

• Don’t Overlook Diagnostics: The need for diagnostic testing becomes more likely as we age. Since traditional Medicare has a lifetime limit on coverage of those tests, beneficiaries who need frequent testing – such as those living with cancer – may end up paying for them out of their own pocket.

• Plan for the “What Ifs?”: An injury or surgery often requires rehabilitative services such as physical therapy. But, patients can quickly hit traditional Medicare’s yearly limit on those services and need to cover the remaining costs themselves. 

• “Keep an Eye” on Eye, Ear and Dental Coverage: Traditional Medicare only covers certain types of eye procedures and doesn’t cover corrective eye exams, hearing exams, hearing aids or typical dental work.

• Mental Health Should Be “Top of Mind”: While rates of mental health conditions and substance abuse are surging among seniors, traditional Medicare treatment coverage is limited, and in some cases, non-existent. While it does cover assessments for cognitive and neurological decline, it does not help with ongoing services that may be needed, such as daily care, care management and home companions. 

For more information on how to assess your needs and Medicare options, visit costofcomplacency.com

Do you know what’s covered by your Medicare? Make good choices by closely reviewing your options.

Photo Credit: (c) digitalskillet1/stock.Adobe.com

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