If you’re thinking of speaking with your agent about the Medicare Annual Enrollment Period (AEP), it helps to have all the information you need with you before you do. Here is our guide to preparing to meet with an agent to discuss the best possible plan to meet your needs:
1. Consider What Type of Coverage You Want
First, you want to decide on what type of coverage is the best fit for you. The two main types of insurance available are Medicare Supplement insurance, which refers to Medicare Parts A and B plus an add-on to help with additional costs of care like copays, and Medicare Advantage. Medicare Advantage plans are smaller private networks of providers who agree to give certain types of care for a lower cost, but these plans are more restricted in their type of care.
Consider whether you are more interested in saving some money with Medicare Advantage or having more flexibility with a Medicare Supplement plan. Medicare Supplement plans generally require you buy into a Medicare Part D plan for prescription drugs, while Medicare Advantage plans often come with their own drug plans. The specifics of these drug plans and coverage in general vary depending on the plans available in your area. Some people opt to say they’re interested in both types of coverage depending on pricing.
2. Consider Your Priorities
When it comes to choosing the right Medicare plan, the perfect fit will depend on your priorities. Some people primarily want to save on their monthly premium, but a lower monthly premium will generally involve higher cost at the point-of-care such as copays and coinsurance, and it might come with a pricey deductible.
Plans with lower deductibles and out-of-pocket costs, on the other hand, are likely to have higher monthly premiums. This means how often you think you will use your care becomes important. For someone who goes to the doctor often or needs specialized care, a plan with a higher monthly premium is likely to be cheaper when all copays and deductibles are factored in.
Another major consideration is prescription drug costs. Each Medicare Part D or Medicare Advantage drug plan covers a different set of drugs, and each one has their own way of pricing the copays on these drugs as well. The plans vary a lot, so making sure the drugs you need are covered on your plan is important.
Specialized care and services can also vary depending on the plan. Also, consider how often you travel—some plans cover expenditures in other countries, some don’t. Medicare Supplement plans are also much more flexible when it comes to travel within the United States than Medicare Advantage plans.
3. Gather Information From Your Current Plan
The best way to find yourself a better deal on a health plan is to compare it to your current plan. This way you can make sure you’re actually saving money and still getting the same types of services covered as you used to.
The information you need to compare and contrast includes: your current carrier’s name and plan, your current monthly premium, your current annual deductible, and your plan type. Plan type refers to whether it’s a PPO, HMO, etc.
4. Provider Information
Most people want to keep the same doctor when they switch or join Medicare Advantage plans. However, these plans have very specific networks, so your provider may be part of some Medicare Advantage plans in your area but not others.
To find a specific doctor you want to see, provide the following information to your insurance agent: the doctor or provider’s name, the type and specialization of the doctor or provider, the doctor or provider’s phone number, and the number of times per year you want to see this person.
5. Prescription Drug Information
Next, gather up the information you need for the prescription drugs you know you will take. This way your agent can check that the drugs you need are all covered by a new plan and find the one that will charge you the least in copays.
The information you need to compare and contrast drugs in different plans includes: the name of each drug you take, the dosage of each drug you take, the quantity at refill of each drug you take, and the price in dollars per refill for each drug you take.
Providing all this information will make your appointment with an agent to discuss AEP go much more smoothly and will guarantee you get the best plan possible. As an additional final step, write out any questions you have about the process to make sure everything you’re wondering gets answered. If any other questions occur to you along the way, your agent can help you with those as well.