Discovering YOU Magazine May 2018 Issue - Page 23


If the unpredictability of this equation leaves you uncomfortable, you're certainly not alone. Most people choose one of two options to help contain their health care costs: Medicare supplement or Medicare Advantage.

Medicare supplement plans help pay some of the costs not covered by Original Medicare, such as copays, coinsurance and deductibles. Medicare supplement plans typically have a higher monthly premium than other Medicare plan options but minimize your out-of-pocket expenses as you'll have little or no costs when you access care.

Medicare Advantage plans have what's called an out-of-pocket maximum, which caps how much you will pay in health care out-of-pocket costs in a year. Once you reach that amount, your plan will cover 100 percent of the cost of the Medicare-covered services you receive, and you'll pay only your premiums. Medicare Advantage plans tend to have lower premiums than Medicare supplement plans, and members pay copays or coinsurance when they need care.

Do you use prescription medications? For help with the cost of your medications, you may want to consider a stand-alone Part D plan or a Medicare Advantage plan with prescription coverage. To protect your wallet, it's best to enroll when you become eligible for Medicare, even if you don't currently take many medications, as it will help you avoid premium penalties later on. There's a good chance your health needs could change in the future. Consider, for example, that 90 percent of people age 65+ take at least one drug weekly.

When considering a Part D plan, make

sure your medications are covered, meaning they're included on the plan's formulary. Your costs could be higher if you take a drug that's not on your plan formulary. Choosing a Medicare Advantage plan that includes prescription drug coverage can be a cost-saving tactic as well as it'll give you prescription coverage without having to pay a separate monthly premium for a stand-alone Part D plan.

How important is it to you to have routine dental, vision and hearing exams covered? According to the America's Health Rankings Annual Report for 2017, most people lose dental coverage when they retire. When the total cost of dental care falls on their shoulders, they may stop getting regular check-ups and routine care, making it more likely that they'll experience serious dental issues or other health complications in the future. Likewise, routine vision screenings are important even for those who don't wear glasses or contacts as they can detect the onset of health problems like macular degeneration and diabetes.

People are often surprised that Original Medicare does not provide coverage for routine vision, dental or hearing services. Many Medicare Advantage plans provide these extra benefits as part of their standard coverage.

Hopefully the process of answering these questions has got you thinking about what matters most when it comes to your health and your Medicare coverage. But remember that your health needs as well as your budget can change over time, so it's important to re-evaluate your priorities periodically to ensure the plan you selected in the past continues to provide the most value in the present.