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How to choose a medicare advantage plan

Published 11:42am Friday, June 1, 2012

Drug coverage: Check the plan’s formulary – the list of prescription drugs covered – to be sure all the medications you take are covered without excessive co-pays or requirements that you try less expensive drugs first.
Extra benefits: Many Advantage plans include dental, vision and hearing benefits, but they are often limited. Get the details on what exactly is covered.
Out-of-network coverage: Since most Advantage plans limit you to using in-network doctors only, find out what’s covered if you have an emergency outside your network area. This is especially important if you travel extensively or live part of the year outside your network.
Locations: If you don’t use any particular doctors and you live in a rural area, make sure the doctors in the plans you’re considering are located near you. Also check to see if the hospitals, home health agencies and skilled nursing facilities that the plan covers are nearby too.
Retiree benefits: If you have coverage from a former employer, be sure you speak with the benefits manager, because signing up for Medicare Advantage may void your retiree coverage.
Get help
If you don’t have a computer to compare plans, or if you don’t feel comfortable working through this information on you own, you can get help by calling Medicare at 800-633-4227. They can do the comparing for you over the phone, and enroll you in a plan when you’re ready.
Another good resource is your State Health Insurance Assistance Program, which provides free Medicare counseling. Visit shiptalk.org, or call 800-677-1116 to locate a counselor in your area. And, check out the HealthMetrix Research “Cost Share Report” at medicarenewswatch.com. This service chooses the best Advantage plans based on health status.
Send your senior questions to: Savvy Senior, P.O. Box 5443, Norman, OK 73070, or visit SavvySenior.org. Jim Miller is a contributor to the NBC Today show and author of “The Savvy Senior” book.

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