LINCOLNSHIRE, Ill. (October 8, 2015) – From October 15 to December 7, millions of Americans will have the opportunity to enroll in or change their Medicare plans during the Medicare Open Enrollment Period. This can be a daunting task for many seniors, according to experts from Aon Hewitt, the global talent, retirement and health solutions business of Aon plc (NYSE: AON).
Aon Hewitt research shows that 60 percent of seniors are overwhelmed at the amount of information about Medicare health insurance. This can lead to less-than-ideal Medicare enrollment choices and often results in overspending on high premium plans. Additionally, plan designs, premiums, and networks continue to evolve each year, making it all the more important for seniors to do their homework, shop early and seek help to choose a plan that meets their needs.
“For many seniors, it is the first time they’ve had to think about enrolling in Medicare benefits, and they are not sure where to start,” explained Tina Maldonado, retiree experience leader for Aon Retiree Health Exchange, a comprehensive retiree health care exchange that has enrolled more than 500,000 retirees in Medicare plans since 2010. “The good news is that retirees have access to more help and assistance than ever before. They should take advantage of the resources and tools that are available to help them understand Medicare and enroll in the right plan to meet their individual health and financial needs.”
To ensure seniors optimize their health care choices, Aon experts offer the following tips this enrollment season:
Read the fine print. If you are enrolling in a Medicare plan for the first time, it’s important to understand how the plan works, what the plan will cost you (premiums and out of pocket expenses) and under what circumstances you can make changes to your coverage.
If you are already enrolled in a Medicare plan, you should have your annual notice of coverage from your carrier. read it. Take note of premium or benefit changes that could increase your costs. Understand what’s changing about your plan and whether it still meets your needs. If not, take action and get help to re-evaluate your plan.
Start early. Finding a suitable Medicare plan, especially for the first time, can take time and a lot of thought. Don’t wait until the last minute to start evaluating your options. If you are Medicare-eligible for the first time or have access to a special enrollment period, failing to enroll on time could mean you are left with a basic Medicare plan that may only cover about 80 percent of approved claims and puts no limits on the amount you could owe after Medicare pays their portion. It can also result in Medicare Part D late enrollment penalties, which can increase your costs.
Do your homework. As you begin evaluating your options, here are some questions to consider:
How is your health? Have your needs changed since last year?
Do you anticipate any significant life changes this year, like a move?
What prescriptions are you taking?
Are there specific doctors that you want to keep seeing?
What type of premium can you afford?
Do you have a chronic condition?
Look at your overall costs. Don’t make your decision based on the premium alone. Instead, estimate your likely overall costs to include premiums, copayments and deductibles. Always consider the out-of-pocket maximum as well, which is a good reflection of your worst case exposure for a significant medical event.
Don’t forget prescriptions. Most people find that prescription drugs make up the biggest portion of their medical spending and can change year to year. Inventory your current prescription drugs list and look for plans that will cover them all. Changing to generic medications or filling your prescriptions at a different pharmacy may also have a big impact on what you pay out of pocket. Review your Medicare Part D coverage annually to make sure your coverage continues to support any of your personal changes in medication regiments.
Shop around. Medicare exchange marketplaces, which work similar to other online shopping marketplaces, offer hundreds of Medicare plan options and insurance companies that allow you to sort and filter by price, insurance company and other criteria to find a plan most suited to meet your needs. You can also speak directly with a licensed benefits advisor who can help guide you through the decision making process, help you understand the various types of coverage, assess your needs, choose a plan and complete an application.
Take advantage of tools and help. There are a number of tools and resources available today that can help simplify this often complex process. Websites like retiree.aon.com, provide on-line decision support tools that help you learn about the basics of Medicare and compare a variety of local Medicare insurance products quickly and conveniently in the comfort and privacy of your own home.
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