Discovering YOU Magazine May 2018 Issue - Page 22


The Real Bottom Line: Maximize the Value of your Medicare Dollar

Article by Ben Kehl

(BPT) - In a recent survey, 43 percent of newly retired people said they were spending more on health care than they planned. One of the primary reasons? An unintentionally misguided approach to choosing their Medicare coverage. To make the process of comparing their plan options easier, too often people focus largely on their monthly premiums.

"Although it may seem like the obvious choice to select a plan with the cheapest monthly premium, it's important to look beyond the premium and focus instead on the overall value a plan provides," said Ben Kehl, vice president of consumer experience for UnitedHealthcare Medicare & Retirement. "One of the best ways to do this is to give careful consideration to what's important to you in a Medicare plan as well as what isn't."

Not sure where to begin with this value-focused approach to your Medicare choices? The following three questions can help you move beyond a plan's premium and consider other factors that contribute to a plan's value. Your answers can help you maximize your Medicare health care dollars by selecting a plan that provides the greatest value for you.

How much financial risk are you comfortable with? All Medicare plan options cover some health care costs, but they vary in the amounts they cover and when they start covering those costs.

Original Medicare (Parts A and B) requires you to meet a Part A deductible ($1,340 per benefit period in 2018) before it pays hospital costs and a Part B deductible ($183 annually for most people in 2018; can be higher or lower based on income) before it pays 80 percent of costs for doctor visits and outpatient services, leaving you to pay the remaining 20 percent. Original Medicare does not put a cap on how much you will pay for covered services in a given year, meaning a tough year from a health standpoint could leave you footing the bill for thousands of dollars in health care costs.