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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 costs. Your healthcare expenses, including premiums and other out-of-pocket costs, can vary depending on which type of 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 ways you can get your Medicare coverage.
You can choose Original Medicare or a Medicare Advantage Plan:
|Original Medicare||Medicare Advantage Plans|
There are plenty of resources to help you search for a Medicare plan available in your area. You can visit Medicare.gov to research your options, 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 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 Medicare plan 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 to supplement Original Medicare so that Medigap will cover most of your out-of-pocket expenses. If you anticipate that you won’t access your benefits often, 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 Medicare costs. 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 policy 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 plans from different insurance companies, make sure you do a side-by-side comparison of 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 is ACA-certified for health insurance and other ancillary, life, and annuity products.