TABLE OF CONTENTS
Find the most affordable Medicare plan for you using resources from Medicare and in your area, whether it is a Medicare Advantage Plan or a Medicare Supplement plan to help with Original Medicare (Part A and Part B) costs. Your health care expenses, including premiums and other out-of-pocket costs, can vary depending on which type of Medicare plan you choose and how much you need to access your healthcare benefits. Plan ahead and engage with your health.
The first step is to understand the two main Medicare options, followed by if you need Medicare supplement insurance.
You can choose Original Medicare or go with a Medicare Advantage Plan:
|Medicare Advantage Plans
There are plenty of resources to help you search for a Medicare plan available in your zip code. You can visit Medicare.gov to research your options and find the right Medicare coverage, and you can visit with a licensed Medicare insurance agent or your local Area Agency on Aging. You should review your Medicare insurance plan each year to make sure you have the best, most affordable plan for you.
Consider the fixed and variable out-of-pocket expenses you will be responsible for paying, depending on which Medicare plan you choose.
Health care can be expensive. Affordable care should give you the best bang for your buck and ensure the services you need are available to you when you need them without breaking the bank. You could view an affordable Medicare health plan as an intersection of quality care and the lowest possible cost.
You can compare these out-of-pocket costs as you research which federal Medicare program is best for you. It is important to remember that any one of these costs, such as the monthly premium, doesn’t stand alone. Suppose you anticipate that you will access your benefits frequently. In that case, you may choose to purchase a Medigap plan (also called a Medicare supplement) to cover most of your out-of-pocket expenses beyond what an Original Medicare plan covers. If you anticipate that you don’t have major health care needs, you may view a zero-premium Medicare Advantage Plan as the most affordable for you.
You also should explore whether or not you qualify for financial assistance to help with the cost of Medicare health plans. Click here for more information.
There are several ways to keep your Medicare costs as low as possible:
The best source for an affordable Medicare Supplement plan (Medigap) is Medicare.gov. Follow the prompts to view and compare the benefits of each plan that is available to you. You can also call your State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP), your State Insurance Department, or a plan’s insurance company.
Medigap plans are standardized across all states, but premiums vary depending on:
There are different types of plans, and not all insurance carriers are licensed to offer plans in all states.
Some states have the option for you to buy another type of Medigap plan called Medicare SELECT that requires you to receive services that are in-network to receive full benefits. If you buy one of these policies, you have the right to change your mind within 12 months and switch to one of the standard Medigap policies.
If you live in Massachusetts, Minnesota, or Wisconsin, Medigap plans are standardized in a different way. See more details here.
An affordable Medicare Supplement plan will help cover the out-of-pocket costs you incur when you access Part A and Part B benefits, including deductibles, copays, and coinsurance amounts. An affordable plan will also have the lowest premium possible for the benefits you anticipate you will need.
Refer to this chart on the Medicare.gov website to view the standardized plans and their benefits. When you compare insurance plans, make sure you do a side-by-side comparison of each insurance company for the same plan letter/type. For instance, Plan G with all carriers, or Plan N with all carriers, so you are comparing apples to apples. Premiums vary, but the benefits of each plan are standardized.
Medigap policies can be priced in three different ways:
Another tip for finding an affordable policy is to inquire about discounts that may be available to you. Some insurance companies offer discounts for women, non-smokers, or married persons, or if you pay your premium yearly instead of monthly, or pay by electronic fund transfer.
Tammy Burns is an experienced health insurance advisor. She earned her nursing degree in 1990 from Jacksonville State University, obtained her insurance billing and coding certification in 1995, and holds a health and life insurance license in Alabama, Georgia, Iowa, Mississippi, and Tennessee. Burns is Affordable Care Act (ACA)-certified for health insurance and other ancillary, life, and annuity products. She maintains an active nursing license and practices private-duty nursing.
Burns’ background as a nurse, insurance biller and coder, and insurance consultant includes infectious disease, oncology, gynecology, phlebotomy, post operative, family medicine, geriatrics, home health, hospice, human resources, management, billing, coding, claims, fixed annuities, group and individual health and life products, and Medicare. She’s always been driven by a desire to help people, spending more than 25 years as a practicing nurse in hospitals, private doctors’ offices, home health, and hospice. As a nurse, Burns supported patients filing insurance claims with Medicare, Medicaid, and private insurance companies as well as responding to billing questions from confused patients.
Seeing firsthand how unsuspecting patients are frequently confused by an overly complex system they don’t understand led Burns to become an insurance agent and health care consultant, now helping people understand the medical system. Since becoming a licensed insurance agent in 2013, she has worked with some of the largest and most reputable insurance carriers and agencies in the nation, and she has built a large and loyal clientele by way of her commitment to transparency and personalized service.